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battalion, which afterwards became, by additions, the Twenty-ninth Infantry Regiment, whose record will appear in another place.


This regiment was the first to leave the State for three years' service, and is said to have been the first three-years' regiment in the service of the United States.

In its original composition, it was made up mainly from the First Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, of which Col. Robert Cowdin of Boston was the commander.

As soon as the news of the assault on Fort Sumter reached Boston, Col. Cowdin waited upon Gov. Andrew, and offered the services of himself and command to proceed immediately to the defence of Washington. He continued daily to urge the claims of his regiment until the 27th of April, when he received an order from the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts to prepare his regiment to go to the seat of war, and to report himself in person the next day at the State House, and select from the companies offered him enough to fill up his regiment to the requisite standard (ten companies); he having already detailed two companies from his regiment to fill up other regiments, by order of his Excellency the Governor.

May 8, orders having been received from the War Department calling for volunteers for three years' service, the First at once unanimously responded, and, after some delay, was mustered into the service of the United States as follows:

Field and staff officers, May 25.
Companies A, B, G, H, May 23.
Companies D, F, K, I, May 24.
Company E, May 25.
Company C, May 27.

The field and staff of the regiment were composed as follows; viz.;

Col. Robert Cowdin, Lieut-Col. George D. Wells, Major Charles P. Chandler, Surgeon Richard H. Salter, Assistant Surgeon Samuel A. Green, and Chaplain Warren H. Cudworth.

Col. Cowdin, whose father and grandfather were military men, was a faithful officer, who had maintained during his long resideuce in Boston a high character as a consistent temperance man, but whose promotion, though urged by superior officers, was, for some reason, opposed in other influential quarters.

Lieut.-Col. Wells was a very capable and faithful officer, and was promoted to the command of the Thirty-fourth Regiment.

Major Chandler was killed at Glendale, Va., and was a faithful and meritorious officer. His body was never recovered, but is supposed to have been buried on the field.

B, D, E, F, G, were the original companies of the First: the others were added to make up the complement, - ten companies. From May 25 to June 1, the headquarters of the regiment were at Faneuil Hall. Its first camp was established in Old Cambridge, about six miles from Boston, and called Camp Ellsworth ; afterwards the regiment went to Camp Cameron, in North Cambridge.

The regiment complete was mustered into service, and left Camp Cameron for the seat of war, June 15, 1861, and marched to the depot of the Boston and Providence Railroad. Here a flag was presented by Alderman Pray in behalf of the City Council of Boston; and an address was made by his Honor Mayor Wightman, to which Col. Cowdin responded. Eight o'clock, P.M., the soldiers entered the cars in waiting, and the train started. All along the route, they were met with patriotic demonstrations. Crowds thronged the railroad stations, wild with excitement. At Providence, they were welcomed with a national salute. Arriving at Groton, Conn., the cars were exchanged for the commodious steamer “Commonwealth.” At fifteen minutes before two, P.M., June 16, the steamer, gayly decorated with flags, and every available standing-place crowded with soldiers, arrived at the pier in Jersey City. The troops debarked, and were welcomed with a bountiful entertainment, tendered by the sons of Massachusetts, Mr. Warren, President; and, after a few hours detention, took the cars for Washington. Arriving in Philadelphia the next morning, they were marched to the Cooper Shop and Union Refreshment Saloons, where a welcome such as soldiers know how to appreciate awaited them. It was now the 17th of June, the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill. Since the 19th of April, when the Sixth Regiment was assaulted in its streets, no troops had passed through Baltimore. At the urgent request of Col. Cowdin, he was permitted to go that route, instead of by way of Harrisburg or Annapolis as other troops had gone. In order to be prepared for any emergency, as they drew nigh the city, teh rounds of ball cartridges were distributed to each man, and every gun examined, loaded, and capped. On alighting from the cars, the regiment formed, and marched up Baltimore Street to the Washington depot, a distance of nearly two miles.

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Throughout the line of march, though the sidewalks, steps, windows, balconies, and even house-tops, were thronged with spectators, not a word was uttered on either side, not a cheer or groan was heard, and not a secession flag or motto appeared. Taking the cars in waiting at the depot, they arrived in Washington at seren, P.M., before the arrangements for their accommodation had been perfected.

Their presence in the capital, then rank with the spirit of secession, gave to loyal hearts a sense of security; and, for the first time since the outbreaking of the Rebellion, loyal men breathed freely in Washington.

On the 19th of June, the regiment went into camp beyond Georgetown on the Potomac, about two miles from Chain Bridge. On their way, the troops passed in review before President Lincoln, who expressed to Gen. Morse great satisfaction with the appearance of the troops. To a delegation of New England men who had called upon him to pledge their sympathy and co-operation in the great struggle, the President expressed his gratification at the surprising promptness of the Old Bay State in responding to the first call, and said, “It is evident the Massachusetts people have got riley, and, from what we have just witnessed, appear to be coming down here to settle.This bon-mot produced considerable merriment; and the President, begging to be excused on the ground of pressing engagements, retired. The new camp of the regiment was named Camp Banks.

The 4th of July was a lovely day, and was not permitted by the soldiers to pass without some patriotic recognition. The celebration was opened with the booming of cannon, and the playing of the national airs by the regimental band; after which followed a dress-parade. A handsome silk banner was formally presented to Col. Cowdin by Col. Ellis, of the First California Regiment, in behalf of the San-Francisco City Guards; Capt. Moore, their commander, having formerly served under Col. Cowdin. An appropriate reply was made by the colonel. Speeches were also made by Senators McDougal and Wilson, Representative Eliot, and others.

On the 16th of July, the First Massachusetts, Second and Third Michigan, and Twelfth New-York, constituting Richardson's brigade, crossed over Chain Bridge, in Virginia, - their first appearance on its “sacred soil.” Advancing till night, they bivouacked in a large field in Vienna. On the 17th, after marching all day, they encamped about two miles this side of Centreville. On the

morning of the 18th, before breaking camp, Col. Cowdin requested Col. Richardson that the First Massachusetts might be placed in advance; assigning as a reason, that he would like to pit Massachusetts against South Carolina, it being understood that the troops of this latter State were in advance of the rebel army. The request was granted ; and Col. Cowdin made the remark, that it was the best order he ever received in his life.

To the First Massachusetts belougs the honor of opening the memorable skirmish of Blackburn's Ford. It was the only regiment under musketry fire; and according to Estavan, a colonel of Confederate cavalry, this regiment had opposed to them the whole of Longstreet's brigade, afterwards re-enforced by Early's brigade. The skirmishers of the First, under the command of Lieut. George H. Johnston, afterwards assistant adjutant-general, gallantly carried the Butler House at the point of the bayonet under a heavy fire of musketry; the rebels leaving the house by one door as the Massachusetts boys entered the other. The skirmishers were then ordered to deploy into an open field under fire of the enemy's sharpshooters, where they suffered severely. Two companies were sent to their relief, but were driven back with loss. The enemy then advanced out of the wood in large numbers with the cry of “ Bayonet them, bayonet them !” and in a moment more the skirmishers would have been killed or captured; but the First came upon the double-quick, and, pouring a volley into the enemy over the heads of the skirmishers, rescued the Union troops. Col. Cowdin was the most conspicuous man in the regiment, fighting in white shirt-sleeves at the head of his men. In one case, having ordered the men to lie down amid a heavy fire from the enemy, he alone remained standing, and remarked, “The bullet is not cast that can hit me to-day." Some person speaking to him on the left, he leaned that way to understand more distinctly, when a ten-pounder, whizzing past his right side, shattered a tree directly behind him. The colonel turned calmly around, and said, “I am certain that the ball is not yet cast that will kill me ;” and issued his command as coolly as though he were on a dress-parade. The regiment retreated only when ordered to do so by Col. Richardson. Had Col. Cowdin been supported as he wished, the enemy would have been driven from this position, and the rout of Bull Run would never have taken place. Gen. Tyler testifies substantially this before the Committee on the Conduct of the War.

This affair, though a mere skirmish, was of great interest to the First Regiment, as it was their earliest experience under fire. The movement was probably intended simply to feel the position and strength of the enemy; but it had a further importance, in teaching the volunteers how to meet the bullets of the enemy.

This movement was nearly a failure, although the troops did remarkably well. The regiment fell back to Centreville, which for some days was the focus of interest.

During the battle of Bull Run, July 21, the First was stationed at Blackburn's Ford, where it remained until the retreat of the army, when it reluctantly fell back, astonished that the battle which it had begun so well had been so unaccountably lost.

On the 23d of July, in anticipation of an attack on Washington, it was crdered to Fort Albany, on Arlington Heights, a new breastwork orerlooking Washington, Georgetown, Alexandria, and the adjacent country. On the 13th of August, the regiment was detached from Col. Richardson's brigade, and ordered to the vicinity of Bladensburg, on the opposite side of the river, beyond the capital, and there incorporated with Gen. Hooker's brigade, then composed of the Eleventh Massachusetts, the Second New - Hampshire, and the Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania. Bladensburg, where the regiment was encamped, is a place of some historic interest. It was the scene of the battle between the English and the American forces, fought Aug. 24, 1814, which resulted in the capture and destruction of the Capitol by the British. Here Adjutant William H. Lawrence (now a brevet brigadier-general) was appointed aide to Gen. Hooker, and First Lieut. George H. Johnston appointed adjutant. In anticipation of trouble in some parts of Lower Maryland, the First Regiment, with two companies of cavalry, all under the command of Col. Cowdin, was sent with five days' rations to search for arms and military stores of the rebels, and cut off their communication with Virginia. After thirty days' absence, the regiment returned, having done good service.

Oct. 14, Col. Cowdin was detached from the regiment, and put in command of the first brigade of Hooker's division, just tben created by Gen. McClellan's new arrangement of the army; Lieut. G. H. Johnston appointed acting assistant adjutant-general; and Lieut. George E. Henry, aide-de-camp. Lieut-Col. Wells succeeded to the command of the regiment, which left Bladensbury Oct. 25, and proceeded down the Maryland shore of the Potomac to Posey's Plantation, opposite the rebel batteries at Dumfries and Shipping Point. This march was exceedingly hard :

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