Report of Col. Watson A. Fox, Seventy-fourth Regiment New York State National Guard,
of operations June 19-August 3, including the Draft Riots.
JUNE 3-AUGUST 1, 1863.--The Gettysburg Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/2 [S# 44]
HDQRS. 74TH REGT. NEW YORK STATE NATIONAL GUARD,
Buffalo, September 10, 1863.
Maj. Gen. NELSON RANDALL,
Comdg. Eighth Division, New York National Guard.
GENERAL: In compliance with your order of the 8th instant, issued in accordance with an order of His Excellency Governor Seymour, dated June 17, I have the honor to submit the following report concerning the part taken by the Seventy-fourth Regiment, under my command, in repelling the late rebel raid into Pennsylvania, in obedience to orders from general headquarters, dated Albany. June 16,1863, and promulgated to me Thursday, June 18:
In compliance with such orders. I immediately ordered my command to assemble at the State arsenal at 7 o'clock the following morning, June 19, for the purpose of proceeding to Harrisburg, Pa.. in accordance with your orders. The line was formed at 9 o clock, with seven companies, 374 officers and men, without arms or accouterments, in the midst of an immense assemblage of citizens. We took up our line of march, preceded by the Sixty-fifth Regiment, Col. Jacob Krettner, for the New York and Erie Railroad, and, in company with that regiment, embarked on the cars, and took our departure from Buffalo at 10 a.m. We took with us 1,500 cooked rations, issued by Capt. Sheldon Sturgeon, U.S. Army, mustering and disbursing officer.
Prior to leaving Buffalo, I ordered my adjutant, James M. Johnson, with Lieut. Elisha T. Smith, to remain, for the purpose of providing for the sending forward of Company R, cavalry, Capt. Alexander Sloan, who were ordered to remain until the day following, as only about half of his command had assembled, and Company I, Capt. George B. Knight, of Akron, who could not join us on so short notice, it being impossible to get orders to his command until after we had left; also for the purpose of making the necessary provision for sending to the regiment such members as were unable to leave with us, but would follow soon after. We arrived in Harrisburg on Saturday, 20th instant, at 4 p.m. I immediately reported to Major-General Couch, commanding the Department of the Susquehanna, and was ordered to Camp Curtin, distant about 2 miles, to report to Colonel Beaver, commanding the camp, where we arrived at 5 p.m.; reported; drew wall tents, and encamped.
Sunday, 21st.--Our quartermaster, Clark Dodge, drew two days' rations, and the day was spent in cleaning up and getting our camp in order, it having rained heavily throughout the night, completely flooding the camp.
Monday, 22d.--I drew from U.S. Quartermaster's Department uniforms for 450 men, together with camp equipage, and from U.S. Ordnance Department 450 Springfield rifled muskets, in very bad order; not one musket in order, having been used by nine-months' Pennsylvania Volunteers. The day was spent in issuing uniforms to the men and packing up their cast-off-clothing, which was returned to Buffalo. Company R, cavalry, Capt. Alexander Sloan, with 40 officers and men, arrived at 12 m., and were immediately quartered in camp. Major-General Couch informed me that it would not be possible for the Government to furnish horses for the company, and he would be under the necessity of ordering their return. Upon acquainting Captain Sloan of the facts, he informed me that his company would be unwilling to return, and, if permitted to remain, would serve as infantry, whereupon I ordered necessary uniforms, arms, and accouterments to be issued to his command; and, upon consultation with Major-General Couch, he approved of my action, and paid a deserved compliment to Captain Sloan and his command, and desired them to remain.
Tuesday, 23d.--Company I, Capt. George B. Knight, with 41 officers and men, arrived, and were quartered in camp. Clothing was immediately issued to the company. I also issued arms and accouterments to my entire command: To-day and the day following were spent in cleaning up our muskets and accouterments, and putting them in order. Camp Curtin was under the command of Colonel Beaver, to whom we were under many obligations for his kind attention to all our wants, and the gentlemanly and soldierly treatment received at his hands. We are also indebted to Captain Ball, his gentlemanly assistant, for many favors received from him. There were 12,000 soldiers in camp, each commandant regulating his own camp, and establishing his own camp guard, without reference to any other regiment.
Wednesday, 24th.--His Excellency Governor Curtin, in company with Colonel Beaver, paid us a visit, and complimented me highly upon the appearance of my command, pronouncing our camp the cleanest, best laid out and regulated on the ground, and the regiment the best disciplined and best appearing of any among the troops in camp. I thanked His Excellency for the compliment paid us, and believe that I had just cause to feel proud of the appearance of my command.
Thursday, 25th.--Having been placed in command of the Thirty-first Brigade, comprising the Sixty-fifth and Seventy-fourth Regiments, Colonel Krettner, of the Sixty-fifth, having returned to Buffalo on account of sickness in his family, I received an order from Major-General Couch to proceed the following day, at 9 a.m., to Mount Union, Pa., there to report to Col. J. W. Hawley, Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania, commanding the post.
Friday, 26th.--The brigade, under my command, left Harrisburg by the Pennsylvania Central Railroad at 2 p.m., and arrived at Mount Union, distant 86 miles from Harrisburg, at 7 p.m., where I reported to Colonel Hawley, and encamped for the night.
Saturday, June 27.--I ordered five companies of the Sixty-fifth Regiment, Under' command of Lieut. Col. William F. Berens, commanding the regiment, about 5 miles distant, to Bell's Mills, near the Juniata River, there to establish his headquarters and picket the country in that region, and to protect the fords of the river. The remaining two companies of that regiment, Company A, Captain See-ber, and Company B, Capt. Louis Krettner, I sent to guard a bridge across the Blue Juniata, about 2 miles distant; also the Pennsylvania Canal and locks to the village of Mapleton, about 4 miles distant. Three companies of the Seventy-fourth Regiment were, immediately on our arrival at Mount Union, sent out on picket at different points, distant from 2 to 4 miles, the remaining six companies held as a reserve at Mount Union. This number out during our stay, then relieved every two days until July 5. Mount Union is 86 miles from Harrisburg, on the Pennsylvania Central Railroad, which crosses the Blue Juniata River by a bridge costing over $1,000,000. The aqueduct of the Pennsylvania Canal also crosses this river at the same point. These structures were threatened by the enemy, and their destruction would have cut off all communication between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg; hence this place was held to be very important, and the utmost vigilance enjoined to guard it, and at the same time avoid surprise from the enemy, on the alert, and all about us. Mount Union was occupied by the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania Militia, Col. J. W. Hawley, who was in command of the post, and one company of cavalry, under the command of Captain [B. Mortimer] Morrow.
Immediately on our arrival, five companies of the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania were ordered to Orbisonia, Pa., about 30 miles distant. Colonel Hawley had two brass 12-pounders sent to him by Major-General Couch, one of which was manned by picked men from my command, and placed in command of Private Edward M. Allen, an experienced artillerist and member of Company C. We were joined at Mount Union by our worthy chaplain. Rev. G. W. Heacock, D. D., and about 60 men sent to us by Adjutant [James M.] Johnson and Lieut. Elisha T. Smith. It would be difficult to enumerate all the duties my regiment performed while at Mount Union: officers and men were constantly on duty. No regiment could have done more or better under the circumstances. A generous spirit of rivalry pervaded the regiment as to who should be most active in the performance of duty.
July 2.--At 7 p.m. Colonel Hawley received a telegram from McConnellsburg, notifying him that an iron structure known as Mill Creek railroad bridge was threatened by the enemy, and that its destruction was anticipated that night by 500 of Imboden's cavalry. This bridge crosses the Juniata River 6 miles from Mount Union. We had about 400 men in camp, all told. On consultation with Colonel Hawley, it was determined that I should make the advance and defend the bridge with 150 men; whereupon Company D, Capt. George M. Baker, and Company A, Lieut. John C. Nagel, with 50 men each, were detailed for this duty, and, under my command, left Mount Union at 9 p.m. I was accompanied in this expedition by Maj. Charles J. Wing and Surg. Jacob Whittaker, of the Seventy-fourth Regiment. Our route was by the bridge guarded by Company A, Sixty-fifth Regiment, and Major Wing was sent in advance, with orders to detach 25 men, under command of Lieut. Henry Rudolph, from that company, to join us; also to go on to the village of Mapleton, and call in the pickets of Company B, Sixty-fifth Regiment, Capt. Louis Krettner, which company joined us at that place. I was joined at Mapleton and vicinity by 20 farmers, who volunteered their services as axmen. There were four roads or passes leading over the mountains, through Bear Valley, to this bridge, and I decided to blockade these roads in the narrow passes in the mountains. Major Wing was sent with Captain Krettner's company 1 mile north of Mapleton, with instructions to blockade and defend Mill Creek road. I then moved on about 2 miles farther, and posted Company D, Captain Baker, in Bear Valley Pass; about one-half mile southeast, I posted 25 men of Company A, under command of Lieutenant Nagel; in another pass, one-half mile distant from this point, and half a mile higher up the mountain, were posted 25 men of Company A, under command of Lieut. William Bean. All of these points were the narrowest in the passes, barely sufficient for 4 horsemen to ride abreast, and easily defended. All the roads were blockaded by fell-ing trees across them; trees were also cut nearly off at different points 500 yards in advance, and axmen stationed to fell them as soon as the enemy should pass, thus blockading them in. Men were also stationed on the upper side of the roads and on the sides of the mountain between the two points, prepared to meet them. It was impossible for a horseman to ride up or down the mountain on either side of the roads. I held 20 men, under command of Lieut. Henry Rudolph, of the Sixty-fifth Regiment, at a convenient point as a reserve. These dispositions were concluded at 1 a.m.
July 3.--At 2 a.m. 500 of Imboden's rebel cavalry appeared near Bear Valley Pass, within 600 yards of the barricade, and immediately retreated, probably notified by their spies of the reception prepared for them. Having left Mount Union in great haste, we were unprovided with rations, but the farmers in the vicinity brought us sufficient in the morning. We remained there until 12 m. of the 3d, when we fell back to Mount Union, where we arrived at 2 p.m., the distance being 7 miles.
Saturday, July 4.--The regiment was this day mustered into the United States service by Lieut. William F. Fulton, Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania, appointed by Major-General Couch for that purpose, for thirty days from June 19.
Herewith I hand you a roster of my officers and muster-rolls of the several companies of my command. The day was duly celebrated by the companies of the Seventy-fourth in camp, and by a dinner given by the officers, at which were present Colonel Hawley and his field and staff officers as invited guests. The utmost good cheer and good feeling prevailed throughout the day among officers and men.
During our stay at Mount Union, we were constantly active, doing picket and provost-guard duty. Our pickets captured, at sundry times, 58 prisoners from Lee's army, who were sent to Major-General Couch, at Harrisburg. Several reconnaissances were made by Colonel Hawley and myself, and by myself and officers, with, of course, some degree of profit in gaining a knowledge and familiarity with the topography of the country in that vicinity.
July 2.--I received from the Buffalo Board of Trade $500, and from General Henry L. Lansing $100, generously donated and placed in my hands to be disbursed for the benefit of the brigade; but for this timely donation my command would have suffered greatly in its subsequent marches, Government not providing at all times adequate transportation and subsistence.
July 3.--My quartermaster, Clark Dodge, a valuable man in that department, was ordered by the chief quartermaster of the Department of the Susquehanna to report, with 5 competent men, at Harrisburg, for duty in that department. Five men were accordingly detailed, and he left with them on the 5th instant. Quartermaster-Sergeant S. Fred. Hartman performed the duties of quartermaster to my entire satisfaction until we were rejoined by Quartermaster Dodge, at Harrisburg, July 15.
July 5.--At 3 p.m., Colonel Hawley received a telegram from Major-General Couch, at Chambersburg, ordering three companies of the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania and the Seventy-fourth Regiment New York National Guard, to move immediately for Chambersburg, with three days' cooked rations in our haversacks. At 6 p.m. we left Mount Union with three companies of the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania, under command of Col. J. W. Hawley, with one day's rations, not being able to get any more, as the Government had no more rations at this place, and took the Shirley road for Chambersburg. Our route led through Shirleysburg, Fannettsburg, Shade Gap, Burnt Cabins, to Loudon, distant 52 miles from Mount Union, where we arrived July 7, at 6 p.m., and encamped. Colonel Hawley reported to Major-General Couch, by telegraph, at Chambersburg. In the meantime, General Couch telegraphed Colonel Pierce, who was at Loudon, in command of the remains of General Milroy's division, instructing him to order us to Clear Spring, Md. When we arrived at Loudon, we were entirely out of rations, and were only able to draw half a ration of hard-tack for three days. We left Loudon July 8, at 4 p.m., and arrived at Mercersburg, 7 miles at 7 p.m., where we encamped for the night.
July 9.--At 6 a.m. left Mercersburg, and arrived in Bear Valley, within 2 miles of Clear Spring, at 2 p.m., where we encamped, distant from Loudon 26 miles. When at Loudon we were joined by Captain [Nathaniel] Payne's company of cavalry, of Milroy's division.
July 10.--At 8 a.m., leaving the regiment, with the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania, in camp. Colonel Hawley and myself, with the advance guard of cavalry, under command of Captain Payne, made reconnaissance toward Clear Spring, ascertaining the position and strength of the enemy. At 10 a.m. I returned, and, with my command and the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania, broke camp and moved forward. Arriving within half a mile of Clear Spring, Colonel Hawley rode up and informed me that Captain Payne's cavalry were at this moment having a skirmish with 500 rebel cavalry.
Colonel Hawley took his command and made a détour to the left, while I moved forward at double-quick with my command, leaving the baggage train and guard in command of Major Wing. Arriving at the Boonsborough road, where the skirmish was in progress, the enemy made a precipitate retreat. Three of Captain Payne's command were severely wounded, one of whom died the following day. Four of the enemy were wounded, and a rebel major's horse was shot from under him. We encamped by a spring in the woods, 1 mile distant from the village and from the summit of the mountain called Fairview. On our arrival at Clear Spring, we were entirely out of rations, and were generously supplied by the citizens of the town, a portion of which was paid for by the colonel. We ascertained that Lee's army had just arrived at Williamsport. 7 miles distant, and (before the completion of the pontoon bridges) had commenced crossing the Potomac in boats, at the rate of three teams an hour. We also ascertained that Lee's pontoons were built with old canal-boats and pieces of houses and lumber. The rebel General Imboden, and 10,000 cavalry, infantry, and artillery, were encamped within 2˝ miles. From the summit of Fairview, Williamsport and a portion of the rebel forces were plainly discernible. I posted four companies of my command on picket, and kept that number out during our stay at the Spring, and the greatest vigilance was exercised to guard against a surprise, having been ordered here to hold and guard this pass (Boonsborough pike), Clear Spring, and Fairview, until the arrival of General Kelley's division, which took place during the night of the 11th July, and, early on the morning of the 12th, General Kelley posted a battery on the summit of Fairview and below, near the village of Clear Spring, and commenced shelling Imboden on the morning of the 12th. On the 12th, Capt. Hugh Swan captured a rebel major and captain, who were not three hours from Lee s headquarters. They were sent under guard to Major-General Couch, at Chambersburg.
Sunday morning, July 12.--Colonel Hawley received a dispatch from Colonel Pierce, at Loudon, ordering the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania Regiment and my command to proceed immediately to Loudon, as that division was to leave that morning to join General Kelley's division at Clear Spring. We left at 7 a.m.. and arrived at Mercers-burg at 6 p.m., where we encamped for the night. At this place I detached Company G, Capt. Harry Kester, who remained at Mercersburg as provost guard.
July 13.--At 6 a.m. left Mercersburg, and, when about 1 mile distant from this place, met Colonel Pierce, with Milroy's division, on his way to Clear Spring; arrived at Loudon at 10 a.m., and encamped. Colonel Hawley reported by telegraph to Major-General Couch at Chambersburg.
Tuesday, July 14.--At 5 p.m., while inspecting my command, Colonel Hawley received a telegram from Major-General Couch, ordering me to report with my command to Major-General Wool, in New York City, with all possible dispatch. Major Wing was sent to Mercersburg, with orders to follow with Company G, Captain Kester, and join us as soon as possible. Government not being able to furnish transportation, Lieutenant-Colonel Seely, Surg. Jacob Whittaker, and Quartermaster-Sergeant Hartman were left to hire teams and bring on our camp equipage. Left Loudon at 8 p.m., and arrived at Chambersburg, 15 miles, at 2 a.m. July 15, where we rested on a muddy sidewalk until 6 a.m., when we took up our line of march, and arrived at Shippensburg, 12 miles from Loudon, at 12 m. Left Shippensburg at 2 p.m., and arrived at Harrisburg at 5 p.m. same day, where we were joined by Lieut. Clark Dodge, quartermaster, and his assistants, and Lieut. E. T. Smith, from Buffalo; changed cars at Harrisburg, taking the road via Reading, Allentown, and Easton, for New York City, where we arrived July 17, at 10 a.m.; marched up Broadway and to Centre Market, the armory of Eighth Regiment New York National Guard, where we arrived at 1 p.m. I immediately reported to Major-General Wool, who ordered me to report to Brig. Gen. Harvey Brown, 300 Mulberry street, which I did at 2 p. m.; At 3 p.m. General Brown ordered the following disposition of my command: Company A, Lieut. John C. Nagel, and Company E, Capt. William Clingen, were ordered to Hotchkiss' shell factory, Seventeenth street; Company B, Capt. Theodore D. Barnum, at gas-works, Twenty-third street; Company C, Capt. John U. Wayland, and Company R, Capt. Alexander Sloan, to Atlantic Dock, Brooklyn; Company D, Capt. George M. Baker, to Fort Richmond; Company F, Capt. Hugh Sloan, to Forts Hamilton and Lafayette; Company I, Capt. George B. Knight, to Jersey City, to report to the mayor. Late in the evening of the 18th instant, Company G, Capt. Harry Kester, arrived, and was ordered to join Captain Knight, at Jersey City. Various dispositions were made of the several companies remaining in the city during their stay, and active participation in the suppression of the rioters. They received high compliments from General Brown for their efficiency, good discipline, and faithful performance of all the duties assigned them.
July 19.--Company A, Lieut. John C. Nagel, and Company B, Capt. Theodore D. Barnum, were sent up the Hudson River, stopping at all places on the way, to Sing Sing, returning to New York City 21st instant, performing important duty at these several points inquelling riots.
July 19.--General Brown was relieved by General Canby, who, on the 21st instant, ordered me to proceed with my command to Buffalo. We left New York at 6 p.m. this day, on special train, via Hudson River road, arriving in Albany 22d instant, at 12 m., being detained by the washing away of a culvert on the road. At Albany we were generously furnished with refreshments sent to the depot by Messrs. Paige & Dawson. Left Albany at 3 p.m., and arrived at Buffalo at 10 a.m., July 23, when we met with a magnificent reception, the citizens turning out en masse, crowding the streets to such an extent that it was with the utmost difficulty we were able to get through them. We were escorted to the State arsenal by the Union Continentals, Lieut. Asher P. Nichols; Sixty-fifth Regiment New York State National Guard, Lieut. Col. William F. Berens; Eagle Hose, No. 2; Neptune Hose, No. 5; Columbia Hose, No. 11; Lansing Zouaves, and Ellsworth Guard, escort preceded by Union Cornet Band, the Seventy-fourth by Miller's Band and drum corps. At the State arsenal we were welcomed, on behalf of the city, by Alderman Charles E. Beck-with, mayor pro tempore, in a neat and appropriate speech, which was responded to by the colonel, after which, in the arsenal drill-room, we partook of a bountiful collation prepared and tendered by- the ladies of Buffalo. We remained on duty at the State arsenal from this date until August 3, when we were mustered out by Capt. Sheldon Sturgeon, First Infantry, U, S. Army, mustering and disbursing officer. While being mustered out of the service of the United States, an order was placed in my hand from the mayor pro tempore, calling us into the service of the city, for the purpose of preserving the public peace during the impending draft. We entered at once upon this duty, and were relieved August 22.
During our absence, and while in command of the brigade, the command of the regiment devolved upon Lieut. Col. Walter G. Seely. To this officer, as well as Maj. Charles J. Wing, and my staff and line officers, too much praise and credit cannot be accorded for their faithful attention to duty, and readiness to second me in every effort to render my command efficient and acceptable to my superiors. I cannot close this without a just and deserved tribute to the men, who, at an hour's notice, left their homes and friends, business pursuits and pleasures, and, throughout this campaign, were ever ready to perform any duty, however arduous, without a murmur or complaint. My regiment is made up for the most part of middle-aged and young men, engaged in active business pursuits, and the personal sacrifices made by them cannot be estimated, and are not appreciated by the community. I am happy to say they were cheerfully made from conviction of duty, and would as cheerfully be made again when occasion requires it, from the same patriotic conviction. I am proud of my regiment, and esteem it an honor to command such a body of soldiers, who, by their strict devotion to duty, have reflected so much credit upon themselves, their noble city, and the State which they so faithfully represent. For the purpose of encouraging this spirit, I beg to suggest that the State troops responding to the late order should be awarded some testimonial of appreciation of their patriotism and self-sacrificing spirit of devotion to the call of duty.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WATSON A. FOX,
Col., Comdg. 74th Regt. New York National Guard.
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