|Article from The
Letters of the Civil War (Copyright Tom Hayes 1998)
which has unfortunately disappeared.. (Paragraphs about the 15th in
From the Boston Herald, January 13, 1863, Pg. 4. Col. 2
JANUARY 10, 1863.
NINTH MASSACHUSETTS. FIFTEENTH MASSACHUSETTS. EIGHTEENTH MASSACHUSETTS. NINETEENTH MASSACHUSETTS. TWENTIETH MASSACHUSETTS. TWENTY-SECOND MASSACHUSETTS. TWENTY-EIGHTH MASSACHUSETTS. THIRTY-SECOND MASSACHUSETTS.
Falmouth, Jan 10.
THE ARMY NOT DEMORALIZED. The remark is made sometimes that the Army of the Potomac is demoralized, the truth is otherwise. While it must be admitted that nine men out of ten in the ranks are anxious for peace, and even would rejoice to return home and run the risk of an adjustment after both sides had laid sown their arms, and they hope for a reconstruction of the Union through the instrumentality of the pen rather than the sword, yet the army is not demoralized. In proof of this we cite the alacrity with which the order to prepare three days' cooked rations and sixty rounds of ammunition id obeyed, the men readiness to march off in a long reconnoisances, when scarcely a soldier straggles from the ranks, and the few who do so are of necessity taken up by the ambulances.
AN ILLUSTRATION. A march of 48 miles in thirty hours, over Virginia roads, as made the 9th and 32d Mass. with no fires or shelter tents, is not a task performed by any part of demoralized army. A march of the same distance in 48 hours, fording the Rappahannock, even walking through water waist deep twice in one day, and bivouacking at night in an enemy's country, sleeping in wet cloths and forbidden to light camp fires to create warmth or make the hot coffee which the soldier regards as the most nourishing stimulus, like the march of the 18th and 22d Mass. and the 2d Maine, can never be made by a demoralized army.
SPEEDY RECUPERATION. There is not a finer body of soldiers in the world-according to the testimony of those who know-than the soldiers in the Army of the Potomac. If they go into one fight, and are defeated, they do not require more than a week of recuperation to put the men who survive and are not in the hospital into good fighting or marching condition, especially when they can return to the comfortable quarters and plentiful rations provided for Gen. Burnside's Army.
NOT EAGER FOR THE FRAY. In writing this, in is not necessary to endorse the flippant sentiment of other writers that the men are "eager for the fray" and spoiling for a fight. During twelve hours recumbency in the subterranean apartment of the Fredericksburg Iron Foundry, with a bandage head, of which little more than eyes and nose were visible, surrounded by the brave boys of the 1st Delaware, 4th Ohio and 14th Indiana, who had been into the fight of that day-- Dec. 13th --and had come out with the remnants of their regiments, covered with Virginia mud and wet and cold and hungry, that matter of eagerness for a battle was very freely discussed by the boys for the particular benefit of your correspondent, who felt pride in remarking that the sin of that misrepresentation did not rest upon his head. The fling at those known to be correspondents is made sometimes by the boys, when they see one of the fraternity riding through the camps, and the ear is saluted with, "There goes one of the fellows who say we are eager for the fray," and other like remarks.
CONSOLIDATION OF OLD REGIMENTS. The proposition of Senator Wilson to consolidate old regiments is not popular with the army. If, indeed, it is judicious. The old regiments have won a reputation, which can never be obliterated, and a fame which is permanent. But while glory is to be reaped in still other fields, it is asked why should such regiments as the 15th, 19th, 20th and 28th Massachusetts, and the 2d and 5th New Hampshire be denied the privilege of inscribing other victories upon their banners? Suppose the 15th Mass. should be merged in the 19th, the 20th in the 28th, or the 2d N. H. in the 5th, would not the history of the regiments which lose their organization be abruptly closed.
The officers and privates alike deprecate annihilation of their regiments at a period earlier than the annihilation of the rebellion. They insist they deserve perpetuation during the continuance of the war, rather than annihilation. To the officers of the old regiments it makes less difference than to the privates, because there are not of the former more than enough in two old regiments to fill the commissions in one. But to the privates who are entitled to promotion and have fairly earned the shoulder straps by their valor on the field, it is an act of injustice to keep them in the service with the promotion they have won.
RETURNED TO THE 28TH. Lieut. Florence Buckley, of Co. D, 20th Mass. regiment, has just returned to his company, having been absent since the second battle of Bull Run where he was wounded. Before leaving Boston his friends presented to him a sword, sash belt and shoulder straps. He was a soldier in the British service nearly seven years and fought in the India campaign. He hastens to the 28th, even before an entire recovery from his wounds. He has been recently promoted from 2d to 1st Lieutenant. Lieut. Fitts, also of Co. D, wounded at the same battle, has also returned. He was formerly first Sergeant, but has been promoted to 1st Lieutenant, and will probably be assigned to some other company.
THE WEATHER. The weather yesterday was tolerably moderate, but in the evening there was a fall of snow, which the boys were prepared for, and in their comfortable log-houses, with a plenty of fire wood in the forests, they neither care for the snow or rain.
CONTENTMENT. The soldiers in this army are
contented to take whatever turns up, and are indifferent to everything around them now
that they are in light marching order, with plenty of rations in their haversacks and in
their camps, and are perfectly willing to remain where they are or to go where they are
ordered. They amuse themselves, and try to be gay and happy, for they know that
contentment and good nature keeps them in good health, and reduces the hospital cases.
(Boston Herald, January 13, 1863, Pg. 4. Col. 2.)
Thanks to the work of Tom Hayes, wartime articles
in Massachusetts newspapers have been compiled and are being typed and posted on the web
at: Letters of the Civil War
Copyright Tom Hayes 1998.