FIRST REGIMENT NEW HAMPSHIRE VOLUNTEER INFANTRY.


A Sketch

By STEPHEN G. ABBOTT, Chaplain and Historian First Regiment New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry

 

WHEN President Lincoln called for 75,000 men for three months to suppress the Rebellion, New Hampshire responded with an alacrity unsurpassed by any of the States. The proclamation was issued the 15th of April, 1861. Enlisting stations were immediately improvised, and between the 17th and the 3oth not less than 2,004 men were enrolled.

The residue, after filling the First Regiment, were given their choice to enlist in the Second Regiment or serve out their time of three months as the garrison of Fort Constitution at Portsmouth harbor. Four hundred and ninety-six enlisted in the Second Regiment, and the remainder were sent to Fort Constitution.

The First Regiment rendezvoused at Concord on the Fair Grounds of the Merrimack County Agricultural Society on the east side of Merrimack river, the camp being christened “Camp Union.” But a few days passed before the material of the regiment was crystalized into a completely appointed and equipped organization. A contract for fifteen army wagons and one hospital ambulance was placed with the firm of Lewis Downing & Son, of Concord. A supply of horses, averaging in cost $125, was speedily purchased, and the contract for harnesses was filled by James R. Hill, of Concord. So well, thoroughly, and expeditiously was this work performed, that on the 14th day of May, just fifteen days after his appointment, Quartermaster Batchelder informed the colonel that the regiment was uniformed, armed, and equipped, and field transportationfor tents, baggage, and supplies was ready.

From the 1st to the 7th of May the regiment was mustered into the service of the United States. Baldwin’s Cornet Band, of Manchester, under the leadership of Edwin T. Baldwin, joined the regiment early in May, and served until the regiment was mustered out; but as the law made no provision for regimental bands, the members were not mustered in until vacancies occurred in companies, when they were mustered in as privates or company musicians but continued to do duty in the band.

On the 25th of May, after appropriate public ceremonies, the regiment boarded the cars for Washington amidst the adieus and cheers of a vast concourse of citizens. At Manchester and Nashua it was greeted with similar demonstrations. An almost continuous ovation was tendered the regiment en route to Worcester, where it received a right royal welcome and was served to a princely repast.

The regiment arrived at New York, May 26, where it was received by 450 citizens, all Sons of New Hampshire, and presented by them with an elegant silk flag.

The regiment arrived in Baltimore on May 27, and marched through the city to the Camden station to the tune of “Yankee Doodle,” the first national air played in the streets of the city after the passage of the Massachusetts Sixth.

The regiment arrived in Washington at 1.30 o’clock A. M., May a8, and in the morning marched to “Kalorama,” their camping ground, named “Camp Cameron.” It was reviewed from the porch of the White House by the President, who soon after sent a special messenger to the camp to inform the colonel that his was the best appointed regiment that had thus far come into Washington.

In anticipation of Confederate forces at Leesburg, Va., crossing the river into Maryland, a brigade was formed and placed under the command of Col. Charles P. Stone, consisting of the First New Hampshire Volunteers; Ninth New York Volunteers, First Pennsylvania Volunteers, four battalions of District of Columbia Volunteers, and a small force of cavalry and artillery, with orders to march up the river, take possession of Edward’s Ferry and Conrad’s Ferry, and guard the river. On June 10 the brigade marched to Rockville, Md., and after a short rest on the Montgomery County Fair Grounds, christened “Camp Lincoln,” on the 14th proceeded to Poolsville, arriving there June 15. Four companies of the First were sent to Conrad’s Ferry, four miles from Poolsville, and from this point the riverwas guarded for many miles during the encampment.

July 3 the regiment marched to the Monocacy, eight miles, where it spent the Fourth, naming the locality “Camp Goodwin.” On the 5th the regiment marched to Point of Rocks, six miles, giving the camp the name of “Camp Berry.” From this point the tents and unnecessary baggage were sent to Frederick, Md., and the regiment resumed its march to Williamsport, passing through Sharpsburg and Sandy Hook, opposite Harper’s Ferry, arriving at that place July 7, twenty-four miles from Point of Rocks.

The next morning the brigade marched for Martinsburg, Va., twelve miles, arriving there about noon of the same day, where it joined the Army of the Shenandoah under the command of General Patterson, making an army of about 25,000.

The approaching battle of Bull Run rendered it eminently important that General Johnston should be intercepted and prevented from joining in the engagement. This work was intrusted to General Patterson, but for reasons which may never be explained, instead of receiving in the morning marching orders, it was suddenly decided that there should be no movement until further orders. A subsequent investigation of the matter resulted in the supersedure of General Patterson by Gen. N. P. Banks.

On Monday morning, the 15th of July, the entire command, consisting of twenty-seven regiments and six hundred wagons, were on the march. The wildest enthusiasm prevailed among the troops when they found themselves on the road to Winchester. Bunker Hill, ten miles from Martinsburg, was reached about 2 o’clock the same day, and all were elated with the prospect of soon standing between General Johnston and the enemy at Manassas. The day was spent with only a feeble reconnaissance in the direction of Winchester, when on the morning of the 17th a retreat was commenced to Charlestown, twelve miles further removed from Winchester. The camp at Charlestown was christened “Camp Whipple.” On the night of the 20th the first intelligence of fighting at Bull Run was received and was confirmed the next morning. July 21 the division marched to Harper’s Ferry, six miles, and encamped on Bolivar Heights.

On the 24th Gen. N. P. Banks arrived on the ground, and much to the joy of the army — at least of the First New Hampshire Regiment—relieved General Patterson.

On the 28th of July the First Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers moved across the river and went into camp. On the second day of August their term of enlistment expired, and they made no delay in embarking on board the cars for home. They were paid off and mustered out, mostly on the 9th of August, and discharged at Concord.

The First Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers did no fighting, excepting the exchange of shots at intervals for two days across the river at Conrad’s Ferry. In this affray none of our men were hit. The rebels admit one captain and two privates killed and about twelve wounded. The regiment, however, did a large amount of guard duty, a service, which, though unattended with much eclat, may have accomplished as great good as a victory on the field of blood and carnage. The regiment did faithfully all that was required of it.

If, as a regiment, its history is meagre, its individual members have an enviable record. Not less, probably, than five hundred members re-enlisted in subsequent military organizations. The First was represented in every regiment and every military organization of New Hampshire. Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York regiments contained more or less members of the New Hampshire First, all of whom left a record of which the State may well be proud. Many of them sealed their ioyalty and patriotism with their blood, or returned disabled for life. The names of Whipple, Stevens, Crosby, Batchelder, Fellows, Hazelton, Bell, Sturtevant, Ciough, Drew, Dudley, and Kelly, as representatives of many others, will ever have an honorable place in the history of the Great Rebellion and a large place in the grateful memory of their fellow citizens.

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