OF THE TOWNS OF
1703 – 1882,
The War Record
THE necessity of making a war record in
the closing years of the nineteenth century is humiliating and discouraging to
the Christian mind, just as the necessity of making a record of criminals has
the same effect in the same century. The Rebellion of the Southern States in
1861 was a treasonable and criminal proceeding, in the interest of a national
crime against humanity. It was right, therefore, righteous and humane for the
United States to put down the Rebellion by force of arms, as it did, although
never, probably, in any war, was there so many lives of human beings sacrificed
in so short a time.
The war began in 1861 and closed in 1865.
In September, 1861, the town of
In 1862 the town voted "a bounty of $200 for each resident of
With these facts as to the material support of the war, the highest credit due the town may be seen in the list of the soldiers sent out by it, as well as the highest credit due the individual soldiers who "went to the front." No eulogy of words can equal the greatness this record shows.
Upon careful enquiry as to the men who might give some graphic account of some of the battle fields, Capt. Edward W. Marsh was requested to write such an account, to which he hesitatingly consented, and has performed the work to the entire satisfaction of the author of this book, and which will be the same, he thinks, to all who may read the account.
Edward Williams Marsh, son of Daniel Marsh, was born in New Milford, January 24, 1836; attended the public school until about ten years of age, or until the establishment of a school in what was called for a time the Academy-the building now owned by Mr. B. Jarvis Stone, and Mr. John P. Brace assumed charge of the school, where he attended for a time and then went to the Algar Institute at South Cornwall, two years. After this, one or two terms at the Academy finished his school days.
He then entered the office of the Housatonic Railroad at New Milford station, where his father was Agent, and continued two years and a half; when he was employed a short time in the New Haven Freight Office, and then, in December, 1854, he engaged in the General Freight Office in Bridgeport, where he continued nearly one year, and then engaged as clerk in the old established hardware store of F. Hawley and Company on Water Street, in that city, and continued with that firm seven years. While engaged with this firm he married Amanda Blanden of Burlington, Otsego county, N. Y.
In August, 1862, he enlisted, "for three years or during the war," in the 19th Regiment, Litchfield County Volunteers, which was afterwards changed to the 2d Regiment of Heavy Artillery.
The following is a running sketch of some things he saw, and endured, as a member of this Regiment, and which is in a small part a history of the Regiment.
"I received the appointment of Quartermaster-Sergeant, a Non-Commissioned Staff Officer, and started in that capacity with the Regiment for Washington, D. C., on
We arrived at
While I remained in the quartermaster department it was part of my duties to visit
In March, 1863, I was accidentally wounded, being shot through the head by my own pistol in the hands of Capt. Jones of our regiment, to whom I had loaned it while Sergeant Anderson and myself took a stroll to
While at my father's in
We remained at the forts around
Face to face with the foe brought us new experiences, and made us estimate the hardships of army life at their actual value. Army life and supplies in the forts was one thing, but army life in the field on a campaign was another. All of our regiment, however, were most anxious to be placed in active service. Life at the forts had become monotonous, and all were "spoiling for a fight" We left camp in the best of spirits, well equipped with clothing of all kinds, and camp equipage as complete as allowed in the most favored circumstances by army regulations.
I estimated that in the few days, three or four, we were marching from Belle Plain to Fredricksburg, we threw away as a regiment fifteen to twenty thousand dollars worth of clothing, all of which was considered indispensable to the comfort and welfare of a soldier in camp, but became unbearable when it had to be carried every day from morning to night, in addition to rations, cartridges, musket, and accoutrements.
In ten days we were at
The most interesting period of our active service was the five months we were in the
At this time our regiment was in camp at
Very soon after we commenced our march we heard heavy cannonading. The great battle of Opequan had begun. It was about when we arrived, owing to our distance from the battle ground. The First Division of the Sixth Corps was held in reserve, and I believe our brigade was the last of the division brought into action. We were near the center of the line of battle, and as we came within range of the enemy's artillery and while marching along the Pike a solid shot struck one of Co. Gs men near the ankle and threw his foot, shoe and all, fifteen to twenty feet in the air. Soon after this we were turned to the left up a small ravine and were for the first time since we started allowed to get our breath and take a good rest.
Our next move was a turn to the right, a short march, and another turn to the right, and we were within musket-range of the enemy. We were obliged to march by the right flank, exposed to the enemy's constant fire, into a piece of woods. This was the most uncomfortable part of the day. We were not allowed to return the fire, and the constant hissing of bullets and occasionally the wounding of some one tried the nerves more than being in the heat of battle.
The next move was forward, across an open lot into a shallow ravine. In going this distance we passed several Johnnies (poor fellows) who, in various positions, had been killed as they contested the ground which was now in our possession. I remember distinctly passing one on his knees with his arms bent on the ground, his head resting on his arms, and his knapsack fastened to his shoulders but turned over his head. In this ravine a corporal next to me had his canteen badly used up by a stray shot, although his person was not harmed.
The next advance was to a rail fence with a piece of woods on our right. Here we opened fire upon the enemy, which we were glad to do as we thought we had taken fire enough for one day without returning it. Very soon along came Gen. Sheridan on his black horse, going to the left of the line. As he passed close behind us, he swung his hat and shouted, "Give them hell, boys, we are driving them at every point." We all cheered him as he passed, and were glad to hear the news. Gen. Upton, our brigade commander, now became very impatient at our slow progress. He called his adjutant and said in a loud voice: "Give my compliments to Gen. Sheridan, and say to him if he will give me command of this front line we will whip them in half an hour." We all cheered this announcement heartily.
Just at this moment, even before we were through with our cheering, an orderly arrived saying: "Gen. Russell is killed, and the command devolves upon you, Gen. Upton." In an instant he waved his sword and shouted-" Forward, men of the Second Brigade," and away we went through a piece of woods right on to a rebel regiment, and opened a heavy fire. They staid only to present their compliments by one or two rounds, and left the field to us. It was here that Capt. Berry was wounded in the knee. I passed him sitting against a tree. He told me where he was hit. I spoke a few words of cheer to him, shook hands, and said "good bye," little dreaming that in one month from that day he was to be buried. We thought at the time that his wound was not a dangerous one, and that a few weeks in hospital would bring him back all well again.
We now moved forward out of the woods into a large clear space, and the sight was grand. We were now on quite a rise of ground and could see on our right the stars and stripes advancing in-echelon, regiment after regiment, and in fact we could see that we had turned the enemy's left flank and they were moving down the Pike to Winchester as fast as legs could carry them. Never before or afterward did I have such a view of a battle. To the front and left of us was a fort or earthwork which kept up a continual and annoying fire. We were ordered to charge. We made a quick run down the hill, but it cost us dearly. They opened upon us with grape and canister. Major Rice fell cut all to pieces. The colonel's horse was shot under him. The regiment without waiting for orders swung to the left around a knoll, and out of the range of the guns. The colonel asked for the colors. The colors were attached to my company that day. I had just directed them to go with the regiment and lie down. He ordered me to go at once and get the men in line, while I was most anxious to go and lie down with the men. Grape and canister were flying through the air like hail, and for a few moments our advance was checked.
We were soon on our feet again. The rebel fort was vacated, leaving guns and horses. As the sun passed behind the Shenandoah mountains-the rebel army was in full retreat through
Gen. Sheridan had sent his cavalry to flank and if possible capture the artillery, and as soon as the attack was begun we were ordered to charge. We ran down a steep ravine, across and up the opposite side, down a hill, across a railroad, and finally over a stone wall, and very soon the whole rebel army was flying down the valley. This was to me the most exciting experience of the kind in the war. The ravine, the hill, the railroad embankment, the stone wall, was alive with the enemy and they were so hid from our view we were continually in the dark as to their numbers and their movements, while our position was such that to have halted or hesitated would have been fatal. We could not retreat if we would. We must move forward. We must drive out the enemy. The next day at an amusing incident occurred. We were at rest waiting for rations. Near us was a pool containing several prisoners. A colored servant of some rebel officer drives up with a horse and wagon and a load of pigs. As he drove into camp his mouth was twice its natural size, and with wide open eye and the broadest grin and in the jolliest mood possible he began, "Da-da-da-that
On one of our hard marches-Corporal Brady of Company I (whose place on the left of his company brought him near to myself on the right of my own)-turned and said to me he would march a half hour longer but not a step farther. After an hour had passed I said "Corporal, I thought you were not going to march -beyond a half-hour!" Immediately, with genuine Irish wit, he replied:-"Oh, it is against my will I am going now." He lost a leg, I think, at Cedar Creek, which, notwithstanding his struggle to live, in a few months terminated his life.
We returned up the valley as far as Cedar Creek. Here we went into camp and remained about three weeks, while Gen. Sheridan made a visit to
Gen. Early determined to regain his lost laurels by a bold flank movement around our left. On the morning of the 19th, we who were on the extreme right were just ready for breakfast when we heard sharp firing on our left, and with soldier instinct knew that it meant business. We were ordered to fall in, and the order was repeated with unusual sharpness three times. In less than ten minutes we had formed a line and marched double quick to the left and opened fire upon the advancing foe. I had seven men wounded in less time than it takes to write the fact. We were obliged to fall back by the momentum and vigor of the onset, and even then we were nearly surrounded. I ran up to Col. McKenzie and said "Colonel, it is very imprudent to remain here." "Why," says the Colonel. "Look," I replied, pointing to large numbers of advancing Rebels who were on our left flank firing into us as rapidly as they could and shouting," surrender you s of b. " "Are those Rebels?" asked the Colonel in surprise! "Well then, on retreat march," and retreat we did. We passed a battery of light artillery who were doing good execution, but they were obliged to go with us. The Colonel's horse was shot under him. The heel on one of my boots was struck by a bullet and taken off as neatly as if it had been done by the sharpest axe. I also found a spent bullet in the sleeve of my overcoat, but how or when it came there I know not.
Our regiment, or what was left of it, were thrown out as skirmishers while Gen. Wright, who, in the absence of Sheridan, was chief in command, was forming a new line collecting and reorganizing the routed army. Shortly after we were called in Gen. Sheridan came riding down the lines and the cheers that rent the air were heard by the Confederates, who thought reinforcements had arrived. They afterwards told us we would not have regained our lost ground but for the heavy reinforcements received by us in the afternoon. All the reinforcement received or needed was Gen. Sheridan, for we had such implicit confidence in him that we were ready to follow wherever he might lead. He sent orders to all troops to encamp upon their old camping-ground that night. This was about in the afternoon, and the whole rebel army flushed with the victory and rout of our forces, in the morning lay between us and our camping-ground. The announcement was received with cheers, and after receiving one charge from the enemy we in our turn made a grand rush forward. We were stopped a few moments at a stone-wall, and then the rebels broke and ran and never stopped running that night. Our boys who lay wounded on the field or were captured by the enemy told us that the officers would get the men in line and swing their sabers and shout forward, and the whole line would shout forward, and very soon the Yanks would appear in sight and then they would break and run, and they would repeat the same effort over again only with less of courage and success each time, until finally they abandoned any further attempts to stem the tide and fled completely routed.
In pursuing the foe our forces became very much scattered. I recollect passing a wounded man lying upon his back, belonging to a
Our men were coming in all night, we built camp-fires and tried to sleep, talked of the incidents of the day, and warmed first one side and then the other as we lay around the fire in the open air on that cool October night. The next day we mustered eight officers in the entire regiment: Capt. Jones and Adjt. Vaill as field and staff, and six line officers for twelve companies. "D" and "M" were assigned to my care. Near us at headquarters there was a prisoners' camp. Going over there the second day after the battle we saw twelve hundred prisoners getting ready to be taken North. We talked and joked with them about the fortunes and misfortunes of war. Muskets were piled up like cord-wood in long and compact piles, cannon and debris of every sort used in army life was to be found in unnumbered quantities, that had been brought in as part of the trophies of the great victory.
This was the last battle in the Valley of the Shenandoah. We were ordered back near
Our army remained so long in front of
January, 1865, had now appeared on the calendar, and it was evident to every one that the end was drawing near. Frequent desertions, the information given of the shortness of rations and general despondency of the Confederates, all told plainly that theirs was a lost cause. The men on both sides became friendly, I talked freely, met half way and by mutual consent acknowledged it neutral ground, played cards together and very frequently our men were asked to assist in escorting a confederate over to our side as a deserter. In fact the desertions were so frequent and numerous as to be a source of alarm and constant anxiety to the officers. A rush of six or ten deserters to our lines followed by a sharp fire from the enemy would bring our men to a ready, but we did not know, especially in the night, whether it was a deserting party or a charge upon us. Sometimes it was the latter but oftener the former. Our lines were constantly extending to the left farther and farther, until in April Gen. Lee found it imprudent to remain, and the result was
The jubilee that followed was extraordinary. Officers and men turned somersaults, and manifested in every imaginable way their extreme delight at the close of the bloody conflict. Confederate officers visited our camp and talked over the engagements in which each had participated. The best of feeling prevailed. Our Corps was ordered to join
We joined in the second grand review at
Further reminiscences of the war by one who was there three years, furnished at the request of the author.
Lieut. David F. Soule was born in Long Mountain School District, New Milford, Mar. 4, 1838; received a common school it education ; learned the carpenter and joiner's trade, and worked at it until August, 1862, when he enlisted in Co. Fl, 19th Regt C. V. After assisting in raising a full company, and at the time they were ready to go to Camp Dutton in Litchfield, upon the earnest solicitation of the town officers he consented to raise a company for a nine months' regiment then forming in this State, and had received permission from Governor Buckingham to do so, but after remaining in New Milford two days for this purpose, he joined his company at Litchfield, to the great delight of his comrades. The company for the nine months' regiment was raised and went to the front under Capt. D. D. Hoag and Lieut. Charles M. Booth, afterwards Captain.
After drilling for several weeks the 19th regiment was ordered to
In May, 1864; this regiment was ordered to join the Army of the
Here for the first time they began to realize the terrible ordeal of war, for scarcely had they joined the army before they saw wounded men brought in from the skirmish line, groaning and bleeding and dying, which gave such a chill of horror to their hearts as only those who have been there can really understand.
Soon commenced the long marches of Grant's army in its flank movement towards
We lay here until nearly five o'clock in the afternoon, when orders came for our regiment to make a charge on the enemy's work, and says Mr. Soule, " I am sure if others felt as I did they would have sooner been at home, than there." And he further says: " I being Color Sergeant carried the Colors; our regiment having only its National Flag as the State Flag had been left at Belle Plain-- I well remember Colonel Kellogg saying to me Sergeant Soule' don't never allow the Rebels to get those colors, and you Corporals, if the Sergeant falls look out for them.'" It is one thing to talk of battle, and still another thing to go into battle. They had six corporals in the Color Guard, and after the battle only two were uninjured-two killed and two wounded. The real charge or battle lasted only about an hour, although they were under fire all that long hot summer night, amid the wounded and dying, some crying for water, others wishing they could die, making the night one to be remembered as long as life lasts. The colors were very much riddled by bullets and the spear on the staff was shot away entirely.
The regiment remained at
After the Valley campaign in December, 1864, the regiment returned via Harper's Ferry and
Lieutenant Soule was with his regiment in all battles it was engaged in except one; was never wounded, and had good health until his discharge in September, 1865.
List of those who served from New Milford
RETURN TO THE TOWN OF NEW MILFORD MAIN PAGE
This page was created by Linda Pingel on
January 17, 2004
copyright 2004 - all rights reserved
This page may be freely linked but not copied.