« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
port battery; and was for more than half an hour a target in the forts, of which they availed themselves, but fortunately without success.”
July 4, 1864, an Act of Congress was approved, allowing men in the naval service during the war to be credited to the quotas of any town or state to which they belonged. Three days later, a communication was sent from the War Department in Washington to Gov. Andrew, appointing him and Ex-Gov. Clifford a commission to give Massachusetts the benefit of the just and timely law.
To ascertain the number of enlisted men in the navy, it was necessary to copy the rolls on board of the receivingship “Ohio,” at the Charlestown Navy Yard ; which contained, it was found, 22,360 names. A circular was sent to the selectmen of each town, asking for a statement of all persons there, who had entered the naval service, not already credited, nor enrolled prior to Feb. 24, 1864. Prompt responses were made. The direct credits given to cities and towns, reduced to three-years' men, were 9,0203. The number credited to the State at large, and distributed, pro rata, to the credits of the cities and towns, reduced to three-years' men, were 7,605).
The naval service is apart from the people at home: the return of its heroic men is unaccompanied by marching columns and popular demonstrations, excepting the occasional honors paid to a great victor. There is but little sympathy between the brave warriors of the sea and the citizens of a commonwealth : consequently, the indispensable and gallant services they have rendered to the country are but scantily appreciated. They do not go and come in time of war under newly given or torn and blackened banners, amid the tearful adieus or welcomes of friends and citizens. On this very account, the history of the soldiers of the sea is fragmentary, and no connected narrative can be written as of regiments and companies, in which the bravery of nearly every man will appear. The men of the navy feel this isolation from the communities on the land, and are driven to seek associations in port, often destructive, urged forward in a reckless career by the broken lines of interest in the people.
In connection with the naval service, it will be both proper and interesting to have a brief account of the “Stone Fleet,” which was almost wholly a Massachusetts affair. The War Department having decided to close, if possible, the well-known channels in the harbors of Charleston and Savannah, to stop, for a time at least, the blockade-running, resolved to make the experiment of sinking in those waters ships heavily laden with stones. Thu novel enterprise was intrusted to Mr. Richard H. Chapell of New London, Conn., who was assisted by Messrs. I. H. Bartlett & Sons of New Bedford, Mass., and Mr. Vernon H. Brown of Boston. The vessels employed were principally old whalers, sold by citizens of Massachusetts, manned by her hardy tars, and sent on their hostile errand by men accustomed to the harpoon and lance. Twenty-five vessels were ordered at first; but, before sailing, twenty more were added. For weeks, granite bowlders, great and small and in fragments, were carted to the wharves where the whalers lay, and piled beneath their decks. The arrangement for sinking them consisted of a hole six inches in diameter under the stern of each vessel, within six inches of the water, into which lead pipe was introduced, and made water-tight. A plug was so attached, that it might be readily withdrawn. With thirty days'
' provisions, the fleet of twenty-five vessels — sixteen of them from New Bedford — sailed under the command of Rodney French, Esq., ex-mayor of that city, Nov. 20, 1861. The sight was novel and beautiful as the unarmed armada moved down the bay, attracting many spectators to the shores. When the vessels reached their destination, after taking off sails and rigging, they were anchored, the plugs knocked out, and in fifteen minutes the venerable travellers to distant seas went to the bottom, and the waters closed over their naked masts. The crews made good their escape to a vessel which accompanied the fleet. The object in view by the Government in this expedition was temporarily secured; and its importance as a punishment to the rebels was indicated by the indignant declaration of their English allies, that it was an exhibition of vandalism. The effect in the end, however, was rather of a moral than a physical character. The enemy was alarmed, and the jealousy of France and England called forth in expressions of sympathy for the injured South.
GENERAL OFFICERS FURNISHED BY MASSACHUSETTS, WHO
SURVIVED THE WAR.
Officers in the Regular Army and Volunteer Forces. — Brief Notices of Sheridan, Hooker,
Butler, Banks, Saxton, and Gordon. — Gen. Grant's Visit to Boston.
N addition to the sketches of general officers from Massachu
can scarcely more than glance at the career of some of the more conspicuous actors in the great tragedy of national redemption which has just closed. We begin with those in the regular army.
MAJOR-GEN. P. H. SHERIDAN.
Major-Gen. P. H. Sheridan was born in Massachusetts. His father removed to Perry County, 0., while he was very young, where, some historians will have it, he first saw the light. His name is entered in all the army registers as from this Commonwealth ; but he was appointed to the Military Academy at West Point from Ohio. The grandest achievement of “Cavalry Sheridan” was the victory won by him in the hour of apparently hopeless defeat by Early at Winchester, - a martial achievement which has no parallel in the annals of war. With no re-enforcements but his return to the field of disaster, he brought order from chaos, and inspired his men with enthusiasm, which swept, like chaff before the whirlwind, the exultant rebel legions from the field of their triumph.
E. W. TOWNSEND AND S. BRECK.
Assistant Adjutant-Gen. Edward W. Townsend has really been the chief officer of the department during the war. The duties of Gen. Townsend have been almost constantly in the South-west, superintending the enlistment of colored regiments, and the business growing out of the new order of things which followad the work of emancipation.
Gen. Townsend's able assistant, Col. Samuel Breck, is also a Massachusetts man.
MAJOR-GEN. JOSEPH HOOKER.
Major-Gen. Joseph Hooker's birthplace was the ancient and beautiful town of Hadley. He entered the United-States Military Academy at West Point in 1833, at the age of fourteen ; and graduated in 1837. Entering the regular army, be served in the Mexican war, where, for his bravery, he received the brevet ranks of major and lieutenant-colonel. In 1853, resigning his commission, he settled on a farm in California. May 17, 1861, he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers, and joined the Potomac Army, winning in the Peninsular battles the title of “ Fighting Joe Hooker.” He was made major-general July 4, 1862; and was seriously wounded in the foot at Antietam. In September of that year, he was created brigadier-general in the regular army.
The command of the Army of the Potomac, and his many gallant deeds, among which is the crowning military achievement of his life in the storming of Lookout Mountain, on whose top he fought "above the clouds," are known to his admiring country
MAJOR-GEN. B. F. BUTLER.
Major-Gen. Benjamin F. Butler's life and services have been so fully and enthusiastically written by Mr. Parton, that no sketch of the hero of New Orleans after its surrender to the Union army, excepting the notices already interwoven with the narratives in this volume, is necessary.
He was born Nov. 5, 1818, in Deerfield, N.H., of Irish descent. He graduated at Waterville College, Me., and became a resident of Lowell, Mass. His prominence as a lawyer and a politician is familiar to the people.
He was the first brigadier-general of volunteers appointed in this, or, we believe, in any other loyal State, after the civil war began. An “old-line Democrat,” he was inclined to let the
negro question " alone when he entered the field; but personal observation of the slave system, and a deep insight into the nature of the conflict, soon cleared his vision, and stirred his heart. The earliest indication of right views was the origin of the word “ traband," applied by him to the bondmen that came under our flag.
Two military successes under his command will have a place, in the annals of the war, among great and decisive achievements. The first was his prompt and fearless action in Maryland at the opening of the war, which saved that State to the Union : the other was the command of New Orleans after the war-ships of Farragut brought down its secession flag. Of the latter the rebels complained, and cursed the “ beast.” “ Copperheads" at the North and their English sympathizers re-echoed the complaint and the curse.
Time passed on, and the loyal people at home, and even enemies abroad, approved his administration. He may have erred in principle and practice; but he ruled his province well. The management of the rebellious city, awing its angry citizens by a bold front of authority when he was comparatively weak in martial force, and wringing from their reluctant grasp abused power, will ever give Gen. Butler a high place in the popular estimate of executive ability and successful treatment of the rebels. He was created major-general. We shall not discuss his military knowledge and skill in the management of large bodies of troops, but leave this question to calmer times and future history.
That he possesses genius, and, rising above party predilections, did a work for the country, in her darkest hours, that few men in the nation could have performed, no fair-minded person will deny. In this view alone, he is entitled to and will receive the honor rendered to the greatest heroes of the greatest civil contest the world has known.
MAJOR-GEN. NELSON A. MILES.
Of this gallant officer, a member of his military family writes,
Gen. Miles was born in Wachusettville, Worcester County, Mass., Aug. 8, 1839; and is, therefore, twenty-six years of age. He received a fair education, and at the age of seventeen entered a store in Boston, where he remained until the breaking-out of the war. His patriotism was above the considera tious of home, and induced him to accept the position of first lieutenant in Senator Wilson's regiment, — the Twenty-second Massachusetts Volunteers ; which left Boston on the 1st of October, 1861, and joined the Army of the Potomac near Washington. He remained with his regiment but a short time, being first detailed on the staff of Gen. Casey ; and was afterwards assigned to the staff of Brig-Gen. 0. 0. Howard, then commanding the first brigade,