Researched and contributed by Bill Tourtellotte
|From the Fifteenth.
The following extracts from a private letter from a member of the fifteenth regiment, will be read here with interest, although it does not speak of the latest movements of the regiment. We see nothing in it which may not now be printed without offense to any rule of the war department. It speaks only of "past acts," and gives no clue to what is going on at present: --
We left Poolesville, the 15th of February, about 10 a.m., not knowing our destination. We marched thirteen miles, with occasional halts, till dark, when we halted for the night near the banks of the Monocacy river at the base of a high mountain. We slept on the ground with our blankets for covering, as we could not take our tents at the time we left.
Next morning the drums called us into line. Long before daybreak we marched two hours bringing us to Adamstown. Some of the boys fell from exhaustion on the long march, and others were obliged to throw away some of their luggage. I brought everything I started with. I weighed myself before starting, with all my equipments, and weighted 192 lbs.; and without them I weighted 139 ½ . Just try it, and travel off two miles or more without stopping, -- perhaps you would enjoy it. I am ready to carry it through Virginia, if we can clear the track as we go. I hope the rebels will not run, but give us a chance to whip them on the spot. After some little delay at Adamstown, in loading baggage, &c., we took the cars for Harpers Ferry, passing through Point of Rocks, Berlin, and other places. The brigade is composed of the second and thirty-fourth New York, first Minnesota, and fifteenth Massachusetts, commanded by Gen. Gorman. We crossed to Harpers Ferry on a pontoon bridge, which was thrown across near the place where the rebels burned the bridge. We quartered in a store over night, where, among other things, we found a secesh ledger, of which I send you a page or two. The rebels have made sad havoc in this place. But few houses are left. The arsenal, large hotel, and many other buildings are burnt. The engine house, where John Brown was taken, is near us. I enclose a small piece of wood which I cut from the inside of the door ; (the outside is plated with iron,) also, a small bit of sash, from the window over the door. Gens. McClellan, Banks, and others are here. Their quarters are opposite the store where our company stop. We cheered our brave commander as he passed, which he acknowledged with a bow and smile. The scenery here is beautiful. The view from some of these grand high bluffs is most magnificent. Troops have been crossing the river yesterday and to-day. I do not know how many there are here, but I think the rebels will see more stars than I do in your letters, when we start for them.
|HALLS TOWN, March 6. Our company was detailed to come to
this place to protect private property, as great depredations have been committed on
poultry, sheep, hogs, and other property. We have sent our scouting parties, who have
arrested quite a number of the thieves and sent them to headquarters. I think there is a
stronger Union sentiment here than in Maryland. The great masses of the people are
rejoiced at the presence of the Union army. Men come from a distance to see if they can
have a guard to stay with them to protect their premises. They offer to board them or do
most anything to have them go. Their horses are stolen, sheep and hogs shot in the fields,
and portions of them carried away, and the remainder left to rot. We will soon put an end
to this state of things. The people here are constantly showing us acts of kindness. The
owner of a flour mill here told us to go to his mills and take flour when we wanted it.
The only store in the place is nearly empty, and has been for some time. Flour is plenty,
but sugar and groceries of all kinds are very scarce. Salt is fifty cents a quart. One man
brought us a four horse load of straw for a little salt out of our pork barrel.
Several men from this place have been pressed into the rebel service. One man who has a wife and four children here effected his escape from Richmond, and arrived here two days since. He is a blacksmith, and has been working on guns at Richmond. He says they have turned out from six to eight hundred a month since last November. The machinery they use is some they took from Harpers Ferry. He spoke of there being many Union men in Richmond, who have not dared as yet to show themselves as such. Our advancing army will soon give them liberty of speech and action.
Our government bonds will pass here quick enough. Southern scrip has a small circulation, but will not long. Paper is another article that is very scarce here. This is a fine country ; grand views from the heights. The memorable Charlestown is about four miles from here.
|March 12th:-- Our first night in Berryville was passed in the
open air. It began to rain about dark, and continued a part of the night. There was not
much fun in trying to sleep I assure you. We had no fires, as they would be a guide for
the rebels to throw shell on us. As we advanced to this place, we discovered some of the
rebel cavalry. We halted, and our artillery threw a shall which scattered them. I think we
might have captured about 800 of the rebels, if we had not fired the connon. They started
for Winchester as soon as they knew of our approach. It amuses me to see how quick some of
the "secesh" turn union when we march near them. There are no doubt many union
men in these places, and others who profess to be such to save their property. I make it a
rule to treat all with respect, till I know they are traitors to Uncle Same, and then I
despise them. McClellan will not let them rest till they surrender. We are stationed on
the direct road from Winchester to Leesburg, and thereby cut off communication between
those places. Salutes have just been fired for Winchester and Manassas, which are ours.
Where will the rebels run next. I am well and in good spirits, ready to help plant the
"stars and stripes" over the devoted capital of the "Old Dominion."
C. J. M.