EXCERPTS FROM HISTORY OF THE THIRTY-FIFTH REGIMENT MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS, 1862-1865
BY A COMMITTEE OF THE REGIMENTAL ASSOCIATION, BOSTON, 1884
CHAPTER 1: LYNNFIELD AND ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, 1862
The famous Seven Days' fighting of the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan ended July 1, 1862. During the hot days of that long summer, the stayers-at-home read with the deepest interest of the "Change of Base" to the James River, or listened to the living story from the lips of some wounded hero. Whether the movement was to be considered a success or a defeat, this at least was clear, that the army must be heavily reinforced; and, accordingly, President Lincoln called for three hundred thousand volunteers for three years. Massachusetts' Governor Andrew issued an official address ending with these words,
"Massachusetts, which has never slumbered nor slept, must now arise to
still higher efforts, and pledge to all the duties of patriotism, with
renewed devotion, the individual efforts, the united hearts, heads and
hands of all her people." To many hearts this summons came with a
solemn power that could not be resisted.
The following advertisement appeared in the Boston Journal, Fourth of July 1862:
"Attention, Recruits! A few more good men are wanted to fill up Captain Andrews' Company, Fort Warren Battalion. Under the last urgent call of the President, this battalion will probably be increased and make the Thirty-Fifth Regiment, so that there will be a chance for actual service. The following inducements are offered to all wishing to enlist:
$25 bounty in advance; also,
$13 one month's pay in advance;
$12 per month State Aid; and
$75 bounty at close of war."
Men of Massachusetts, citizens, patriots, rally under the glorious flag of our country. Let the Old Bay State lead the van. Let our people rush forth in their might. Let us swell the Union ranks, and maintain our proud position, that Massachusetts is ever foremost when duty calls.
Apply at once to the Recruiting Offices, No 71 Union Street,
Boston, or corner of Park and School Streets, Chelsea."
Thus by the system of general recruiting was begun the formation of companies A and D of the Thirty-Fifth.
The Government apportioned the number of men called for among the loyal States according to population and the latest record of the number of men qualifying for military duty. Every motive was appealed to, and all sorts of inducements were offered to the able-bodied men of the community to enlist. Patriotism was aroused by eloquent orators; motions were stirred by music, banners, processions, and grand rallies of the people; excitement was kept constantly ablaze. In many cases bounties were offered in addition to those above mentioned, and promises of private aid to families were frequent. This continued all through July. By about the first of August most of the three years' volunteers were ready for camp.
The camp for recruits for the eastern part of the State was located at Lynnfield, in Essex County, on the north side of the railroad, and bordering on Humphrey's Pond. The pond offered facilities for bathing
and washing. The men occupied wall tents and were furnished straw to lie upon, but no blankets until the men were accepted for service. Food was served from cook-houses but the ration, though ample, seemed to most of the men coarse and unpalatable...so they procured additional eatables from home or outside the camp. Guards were posted around the camp and passes were required to get in or out of the rather crowded enclosure.
Upon arrival, a new recruit was stripped, pounded in the chest, made to walk and hop, had his ears pulled, eyes and teeth examined, and were otherwise tortured, until he had shown his paces, and were then accepted or rejected. Few were rejected. If accepted, the next thing in order was a uniform. A gray woolen blanket, marked U. S., was spread upon the floor, into which were tossed a light blue overcoat, rubber blanket, cap, dress coat, blouse, trousers, shoes, socks, drawers, shirts, knapsack, haversack (like a saddlebag), canteen, tin dipper, plate and knife and fork. The four corners of the blanket were brought together, and he was ordered to shoulder the bundle and take himself to his tent, shed citizen's dress, and assume the appearance of a soldier. There were only four sizes of most of the clothing, and he whom none of these fitted was obliged to fit himself to the size.
The next duty was the muster-in of the companies. Standing in line the roll was called, each man responding to his name, then the oath was administered: "You do solemnly swear that you will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that you will serve them faithfully and honestly against all their enemies or opposers whomsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over you, according to the rules and articles for the government of armies of the United States. So help you God."
On the twentieth of August the arms were distributed. These were nine hundred and sixty Enfield rifles of English make. They were somewhat defective, but so great was the scarcity of weapons at the time, the
regiment was thought very fortunate to get them.
Being now fully armed and equipped, it was supposed that a few days at least of camp duty and drill would be allowed before active service; the demand, however, for more troops at Washington was so imperative no delay could be permitted, and, much to the disappointment of the men and grief of their friends, orders were received to proceed immediately to the front, and the regiment started accordingly on the twenty-second of August - Friday.
There had been little sleep the previous night; it was a rainy morning, and falling into regimental line in the mud was not pleasant. In addition to the burden of clothing, equipment, arms and rations, furnished by the Government, each man had tried to include in his pack a private assortment of writing cases, revolvers, toilet articles, water filters; Bibles and other books, and a general assortment of such medicines or comforts as he or his friend could suggest; and now, having by the aid of his companions slung the mass upon his back, was deliberating upon the question how far it would be possible to struggle along under it all. But patience and endurance are the first lessons of a soldier; so, while waiting for the rail cars, the men, dreading the task of re-slinging and hooking their knapsacks, and having no dry spot to drop them upon, amused themselves chaffing each other's loads, and devising ways of propping them up with their rifles to relieve their shoulders. That regimental line of one thousand and thirteen men looked a mile long; it was our "Old Thirty-Fifth.
One o'clock came before the long train filled with blue coats started for Boston. After arriving in the city, the regiment marched through Blackstone and North Streets, Merchants Row, State, Court, Tremont and Beacon Streets to the State House, cheered and cheering as we went - another regiment off to war. At the State House all looked for Governor Andrew - no departure without his consecrating words seemed in due form - but he was otherwise engaged; so hurriedly receiving a blue silk regimental flag and the small white State flag the march was resumed. The blue flag bore the arms of the United States, with the motto E pluribus unum, in token that we were to bear it in the cause of the Union, one and indivisible. The white flag was emblazoned with the State arms, the uplifted sword and the motto Enu petit placidam sub libertate quietem, signifying that we drew the sword to gain enduring peace in a free land. They were good words to fight under. A national flag, the stars and stripes, was not received until many months afterward.
Relatives and friends crowded the way for parting words, as we hastened on to the Old Colony Railway Station. It was an exciting time. Into the cars we jammed, some sick, some pale with sorrow, some roaring with laughter, others shouting a last farewell to friends - a perfect pandemonium - as the engine fastened on and the heavy train moved slowly out of the station.
In the train every carpet had been taken up, all furniture removed, and there were no beds in the berths. We found space upon the decks to spread blankets, although some hesitated to unroll the packs put together so carefully; but most were soon drowning their cares in sleep.
We arrived at Jersey City at ten in the morning, and by noon we were on the way across New Jersey to Philadelphia, reaching there about six in the evening. Our reception in Philadelphia was most cordial; greater hospitality was never experienced. The regiment was entertained at the far-famed Cooper's Shop. All Eastern soldiers remember with gratitude this welcome oasis between their homes and the front; a little of the accustomed properly cooked food, spread upon neatly arranged tables was relished exceedingly. About nine in the evening we marched through the city to take the cars for Baltimore. "Good bye!" "God bless you!" "Come back safe!" were the constant exclamations. Women brought out water, and did all they could to make the men comfortable; in fact it was quite an ovation.
Packed in the rail cars bound for Washington, the men tried to sleep sitting erect amid the racket, but it was a restless effort. As Uncle Sam's cattle we jolted on toward Washington, through hot and dusty Maryland. We reached the city about two in the afternoon, August 24 and went at first to the barracks near the Capitol, where another meal was offered - a feed this time, not a collation, and further proof that we were now to be classed as Government live stock - the slop-coffee in wooden buckets, and old boiled horse, could not be stomached; some, however, worried down a crust of sour bread buttered with patriotic words; it went down hard, nevertheless. But when at five o'clock the regiment formed column and marched down the grand Pennsylvania Avenue, drums beating and colors flying, the soldier's pride in his regiment awakened, and we stepped off cheerily, and did our best to keep the lines exact and distances correct. But, when the avenue was passed and the drums stopped it seemed as if our legs would stop also.
We kept on by the White House, and crossed the Potomac River above at Georgetown. As we stepped off the bridge upon the sacred soil of Old Virginia, someone struck up the song of "Old John Brown," in which the whole column joined; then mindful that it was Sunday evening, they followed with psalm tunes and the Arlington Hills echoed to the old Puritan music. Darkness and dust together swallowed us up, and still the column kept on. The heat and fatigue began to tell and the column began to lose shape. We pushed along encouraged by the words, "Only half a mile more, boys!" repeated ad nauseam. At Hunter's Chapel the regiment turned into a field on the left and got orders to stack arms and rest for the night; the suddenness with which knapsacks were unslung was very observable. A few gathered rails for fires and roasted green corn, but most, worn out, wrapped themselves in blankets and slept with he ashes-like soil of the Old dominion for a bed and a knapsack or cartridge box for a pillow.
On the twenty-sixth we broke camp and retired about half a mile to within the line of the forts. Tents were again pitched. These last days of August were full of great events occurring in front of our camps. Distant cannonade was heard daily. The regiment was set to work digging intrenchments, but our diet was poor and digging came hard; men declared they had come out to fight and not to handle the pick and shovel. Ambulance trains from the front moved toward Washington, with the slow motion which betokened wounded men within; and stragglers and portions of the Army of the Potomac passed through camp, their clothes weather-stained and worn, flags tattered and ranks thin, telling a tale of hard service and presenting an appearance which quite shocked us; there were even some wounded men among them. Soon after these came visitors from The Army of Virginia with tales of narrow escapes and death of friends in the battles called Second Bull Run.
Surely the crisis had now come, all the armies were about us, and we were in good position to participate. We gazed over to the city upon the half-finished dome of the Capitol, and wondered it it would ever be completed - it looked doubtful. But our short time for preparation was spent; ready or not ready, it was time for the Thirty-Fifth to take the field, to keep it until the end.
(Transcribed and Excerpted by Nancy Ashkar)