The Fighting Parson's Regiment
CHAPTER III.Camp Wyman. Incidents of camp life. Lieutenant Elfwing. Fete Champetre. Departure for seat of war. List of officers. In camp near Washington. Off for Annapolis. General Butler in Maryland. Attitude of Governor Hicks. Waiting at Annapolis. Colonel Perry's last sermon. Journey to New York. Return of contrabands. Departure for Fortress Monroe.
[September, 1861.]JULY 24, 1861, Camp Wyman was formed, at Fort Hamilton, in New York Bay. August 16, the first two compa,nies were mustered into service, and September 15 we received orders to be ready to proceed to Washington. . In camp, the time was spent in preparing for the field. The men were regularly drilled, and the officers, by study and practice, endeavored to fit themselves for the duties before them. Not all the time was given to serious work. The men had leisure for recreation, and the officers, as they became acquainted 'Yith each other, found suitable amusements while in camp, and were allowed ample opportunity to visit friends, and procure whatever was considered needful or desirable for the campaign before us. Lieutenant Elfwing, who had enjoyed larger experience than most of us, and withal something of a military education, undertook to initiate us into the mysteries of the sword exercise, which was supposed to be necessary to give us good and regular standing among our fellow-officers; but, fortunately for us, experience proved it to be an accomplishment, rather than a necessity. The only result of Elfwing's proficiency which became generally known, was through the goodnatured acquiescence of Colonel Perry, in the proposal for a friendly trial, which occurred while we were in camp on Dawfuskie Island, S. C. We never knew that he renewed the proposal. It was generally understood that, recovering his sword, he wended his way back to his rustic bower, and in the company of congenial friends, found comforting assuagement of his mortification and chagrin, in that indescribable, but most mollifying mixture called puddle.
Elfwing was a noble-hearted, generous man. Educated not only in the schools, but by varied and extensive travel, quick of apprehension, of retentive memory and ready humor, his mind was stored with incidents of personal expe-
[September 1861]rience, gathered not only in his native country, Sweden, but in different parts of Europe, as well as through several years of residence in our own country. It was a delight to listen to him, for he had a very happy manner in conversation, and with his friends about him, and fairly engaged in his reminiscent wanderings, took from many an hour its weariness and many a night its sleep. A gallant soldier, he distinguished himself In every engagement in which he participated, and even the loss of a leg did not prevent his continuance in service. When We last hj3ard of him, he was United States Consul at Stockholm, and we trust is still enjoying the honor and comfort of that office, and a more quiet and restful life than when we were together.
As previously stated, September 15, orders were received to be ready to proceed to Washington. The President had urged upon the governors of the loyal states, to hurry forward all regiments as fast as they were prepared for the field, and Governor Morgan, who was always earnest in support of the government, gave personal attention to the matter, visiting the camps, and endeavoring by his presence to arouse enthusiasm, and push forward the troops. He had not succeeded according to his wishes when he visited our camp, and on that account seemed especially pleased, when the colonel assured him that we were ready to start at a moment's notice. Among the members of his staff who accompanied him, was Chester A. Arthur, ExPresident of the United States, remembered by those who saw him at that time as a young man of fine appearance and agreeable manner.
We cannot omit to mention the f@te champ@tre, on that beautiful evening shortly before our departure, when so many'of the friends of the regiment gathered for a few brief hours of enjoyment, before the last good-by was said. All the available resources, within and without the camp, were called into requisition to make the occasion a joyous one: and so it proved. But there is sadness linked with the happy memories of that night. Many a last good-by was said, as the early hours of morning bid the guests depart. N ever again did Colonel Perry look on the face of wife or children left behind. And many a sod, in the valleys and along the hillsides of the South, rests over the silent forms of those who parted from kindred and loved ones then. But no one, at that time, had thought for such things; and when, on the 17th, we broke camp, and took our departure for the seat of war, 964 strong, we felt only the justice of our cause, and the glory of our purpose. Fortunate is it that weak human nature does not always stop to measure the probable or possible consequences of its act: a provision of Infinite Wisdom, that we know naught of the future.
The following is a list of the officers when we left Camp Wyman:-
STAFF OFFICERS.Colonel, James H. Perry.
Lieut.-Col., Wm. B. Barton.
Major, Oliver T. Beard.
Adjt., Anthony W. Goodell.
Surgeon, Joseph L. Mulford.
Asst. Surgeon, Patrick H. Humphries.
Chaplain, William P. Strickland, D. D.
Quartermaster, Irving M. Avery.
Co. A.Captain, Louis H. Lent.
1st Lieut., B. Ryder Corwin.
2d " Asa H. Fergurson.
Co. B.Captain, Edward R. Travis.
1st Lieut., Nere A. Elfwing.
2d " Theodore C. Vidal.
Co. C.Captain, James Farrell.
1st Lieut., George McArdle.
2d " Townsend L. Hatfield.
Co. D.Captain, Daniel C. Knowles.
1st Lieut., James O. Paxson.
2d " John Bodine.
Co. E.Captain, William B. Coan.
1st Lieut., Frederick Hurst.
2d " Rob. S. Edwards.
Co. F.Captain, James M. Green.
1st Lieut., Sam. K. Wallace.
2d " H. W. Robinson.
Co. G.Captain, Anthony Elmendorf.
1st Lieut., Wm. H. Dunbar.
2d " James M. Nichols.
Co. H.Captain, D. W. Strickland.
1st Lieut. W. L. Lockwood.
2d " C. N. Patterson.
Co. I.Captain, Joseph G. Ward.
1st Lieut., S. M. Swartwout.
2d " Jas. H. Perry, Jr.
Co. K.Captain, Samuel J. Foster.
1st Lieut., Sylvanus G. Gale.
2d " Albert F. Miller.
The spirit with which we went forth to service is evidenced by the following, taken from the journal of Melville R. Conklin, a private of Company K. Mentioning the fact that Governor Morgan visited the camp on the 15th, bringing orders to go to Washington, he says: "The order was hailed with joy by every man in camp, as we are all anxious for active duty." The 16th was occupied in packing up, and the Long Roll was beaten for the first time at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 17th, when
the men were formed in line, with knapsacks, haversacks, and canteens, but without arms. These were furnished us when we reached the boat which conveyed us on our way to the South.
It is an interesting fact that Colonel Perry did not give up his work as preacher and pastor until informed of the final order to march, which was communicated to him while he was engaged in the public exercises of the church. Bringing the services to an abrupt conclusion, he started for his command, and never resumed the office of preacher, except on one occasion, which will be referred to hereafter.
Of our journey, we remember only the hospitable welcome at Philadelphia, where we stopped for dinner. Ample provision had been made, and, in common with thousands of others, we have occasion for gratitude to the men and women who, not only at this time, but during the whole war, contributed so generously of their means and personal services, to provide for the wants of the soldiers who passed through their city on their way to the front. At Washingtol1, we were assigned quarters for a single night, in a large brick building on Pennsylvania Avenue, not far from Willard's Hotel. Early the following morning, orders were received to go into camp on the plain back of the Capitol, but, the colonel not being decided as to the exact location, we spent the nIght without shelter. This was a slight foretaste of the life before us, and in many minds, through that first night of exposure, away from friends, and fairly entered upon new and uncertain experiences, there was a lingering look behind, while through the imagination swept those changing pictures of the future, to which a vague uncertainty or sad foreboding gave a solemn tone.
But the morning light dispelled these dreams, and the novelty of pitching tents and establishing camp for ourselves, kept mind and hand busy. In a few days we changed our location to the immediate vicinity of the other regiments of our brigade, and for the next few weeks our time was fully occupied in perfecting our company and regimental drill. Well we remember the idle speculations of officers and men in regard to our final destination, but while we were soon assured that we were to form a part of the expeditionary corps under Sherman, beyond this, we were completely at fault. And well we might be, since the particular point to be attacked was left to the selection of General Sherman and Admiral Dupont, who were themselves some time in doubt. Colonel Perry soon gave ample evidence of his superior qual- ifications as, an officer, and as a regiment, in a short time, we took the highest rank among the troops with whom we were associated.
October 5 we left Washington for Annapolis, and this movement determined for us, finally, that we were to join the great southern expedition, and that our point of attack was to be in the very centre and hot-bed of the rebellion - and we were satisfied. There was no thought of the danger from the enemy or the inclemency of the climate, but only of the possibility of being able to strike such effective blows as would give us an honorable place in the final suppression of the rebellion.
At Annapolis Junction, we found part of the troops who had been detailed to protect the railroads, rendered necessary by the attitude of the people of Mary land, who at this time leaned all too generally towards their Southern brethren. Even Governor Hicks, although loyal at heart, under the pressure of the hot-headed secessionists who surrounded him, had protested to the President against the passage of troops through the state, and had it not been -for the prompt decision and energetic action of Gen-
[October, 1861.]eral Butler, the Federal government would have suffered serious embarrassment in this matter. The bayonets of his soldiers opened the way, while their intelligence supplied the means of transportation. Roads were rebuilt, and engines repaired, while troops were stationed along the lines to guard them from interruption. Although Governor Hicks, in the meantime, had recovered his loyalty, so nearly lost, the troops whom we met were still needed to secure its constancy. It was midnight when we reached Annapolis, in the midst of a driving storm, and the deserted college buildings were the only places which promised shelter. To these we were refused admittance- by the trustees, but upon the colonel's remarking that he had never seen a lock that a bayonet would not pick, there was no further hesitation. Some other lessons were needed before the people learned the temper of our troops. The answer of the colonel gave a tone to the arguments of tIle officers when they were refused accommodations by the landlqrd of the City Hotel, and he acknowledged their cogency. The man who maltreated one of our negro servants assumed a most melancholy attitude of entreaty under the influence of a similar kind of logic, and, if still living, has not forgotten the lessons of that night. Indeed, the whole town was so quickly converted that a delegation was sent to our colonel, as soon as his previous profession became known, to request him to conduct the services in the Methodist church on the first Sabbath after our arrival. Turning to the adjntant, and expressing a disinclination to officiate, he remarked, "You can detail Dr. Strickland, or Major Beard, or Captain Knowles, or Lieutenant Gale, or Sergeant Irvine, or some of the enlisted men." And so he could, for each of those named, and some others in the regiment, were regularly ordained ministers. But the colonel was induced to perform the service, and, attired in full military dress, preached an eloquent sermon.
We soon found many loyal people in the city. The officers were kindly welcomed at the house of Governor Hicks, and Judge Brewer opened his doors with generous hospitality. Orders were strict, and none were permitted to go out of camp without special permission, for no one knew the time for our departure, but such liberty was granted as this uncertainty would allow.
At this time we had a band, but no suitable instruments, and the colonel, knowing that I had reasons for wishing to visit New York once more before our departure on the expedition, kindly detailed me to attend to the business of procuring them. The railroads were then pushed to their utmost in the transportation of troops and supplies, and, finding that the road to Baltimore was so blockaded as to render it very uncertain how long a time the passage to and from that city would occupy, by much persuasion a loyal colored citizen was induced to furnish a horse for the journey.
To anyone familiar with the condition of the roads in our Southern states at this period, a journey of thirty miles or more on horseback, through a strange country, would have presented little attraction, and if you add the fact that the sentiments of the people throughout the state were such that Fecferal troops were picketed along the railroads, and at other points, to guard against the destruction of property, and quell seditious movements, the journey would not have been rendered any more fascinating. Fortunately for my peace of mind, the exa9t state of things was not fully known by me, and more fortunate still that the horse so quickly developed a better acquaintance with the way than his rider as to be left almost entirely to his own guidance. Occasionally, when a fallen tree had completely obstructed the path, or a dense undergrowth had, from infrequent use, been suffered to obliterate all trace of its presence, or, worse still, when an angle of the road (if it could be dignified by such a term), discovered several paths of equally uncertain character, I admit to a degree of apprehension lest he should take. me to some convenient crib, where my welcome would be somewhat warmer than I desired. But if the currents of his life moved rather slowly, they ran in loyal veins, and except for a few uncertain companions who joined me at times, I gave myself up to such enjoyments as the somewhat monotonous way afforded.
Arrived at Baltimore, I left my horse, and proceeded to New York by rail. One day was all the time needed for the transaction of my business, and the following afternoon found me again in Baltimore, anxious to get back to camp, in fear lest the expedition might have sailed, and I be left behind. A short time was taken to collect a few supplies previously overlooked, and as the western sun was just sinking behind the hills, I started on my journey back. I had become - better acquainted with the condition. of affairs in the state, and scrutinized more closely the countenances and manners of those whom I met, especially of the few who, travelling in the same direction as myself, seemed to insist upon the value of their company to a degree rJlot fully warranted by the suddenness and limited extent of our acquaintance. There was quite sufficient opportunity for refleclion during the long hours, that seemed to drag so slowly, as I picked my way in the darkness through those interminable woods, but, like all other things, the journey had its ending. As I approached Annapolis, I was neither shocked nor disconcerted by the chal1enge of our outpost sentinel, "Who goes there." The orders were strict, and I had no countersign, and it was a relief when the presence of the officer of the guard permitted suitable explanations. These were given while we walked along together towards the camp-fire, and as soon as its light permitted recognition, the exclamations, "Hello, Jim!" and" How are you, Val?" left no room for further hesitation. College and classmates, we had parted several years before, to meet for the first time again under these peculiar circumstances. But the impatience of both horse and rider permitted no lengthened colloquy, and in a few moments I was enjoying the hearty welcome of the colonel and other officers.
October 18 we steamed away from Annapolis in the Empire City, towards Fortress
Monroe, the general point of rendezvous for the expedition. Here, by order of
the general in command, Colonel Perry was compelled, much against his will, to
detail a guard from the regiment to return to slavery a negro found on the
transport. Thus the great moral, social, and political movements of the world
have always been hampered and clogged by their early scruples. We were neyer
after called upon to perform a similar service.