Cambridge Chronicle - October 26, 1861
Headquarters 22d Regiment, Mass. Vols.
Washington, Oct. 13, 1861
MR. EDITOR, - With a knapsack for a desk, and surrounded by about two hundred men variously grouped and employed, but all or nearly all making more or less noise, I am endeavoring to give you a short account of our pilgrimage to this shrine.
On Monday, Oct. 7, we received orders to break camp at five o'clock next morning, and accordingly, at three o'clock, A. M., Tuesday, reveille sounded, sleep was banished, and preparations for " breaking up housekeeping " began; luggage was packed, camp furniture stowed away in the wagons, camp struck, and amid the lurid glare from fires made of straw from the soldiers' ticks, the Twenty-Second Regiment bade adieu to Camp Schouler.
It was a glorious sight, the black darkness of the scene illumined by the light from the sacrificial fires of soldiers' bedding; the hurrying forms glancing in and out of the line of light, like weird figures dancing round the witches' cauldron, latent on deeds and spells of enchantment; the busy, hurried commands of the officers, interspersed with little episodes between the men; and over all, tbe starless sky looking down on the shifting scene in sorrow. Rather an ill-omened beginning, for even the heavens wept at our departure, and copiously, too.
But the boys bore up bravely, and stood the pelting rain for about two hours, while waiting for the cars, whiling the time away with talking and singing, until it seemed as if the woods around would forever after ring with the echo of "John Brown's body," &c. I heard no complaining, however, excepting, perhaps, that one of our boys, slightually tinged with the rural, and whom his comrades christened " Country," exclaimed :—
"Thunder! the idea of luggin' this 'ere knapsack raound for thirteen dollars a month ! I'd rather be diggin' taters."
This caused a laugh in our vicinity for a long time, and our friend will not soon hear the last of it. However, all things have an end, and at last we were snugly stowed away in the cars, and whirling along towards Boston.
The exercises on the common, with the exception of devouring the grub, were of no great account. The flag presented us is a beautiful one, and we are very proud of it, and will cherish and protect it to the last man and tbe last breath. The presentation speech of Mr. Winthrop was, doubtless, a very eloquent production, but situated as I was, with a thirty-pound knapsack bearing me down, I fell its weight more than that of his speech; and I would like to ask you if there is no balm in Gilead, no relief for trial and suffering humanity under similar circumstances — if long speeches are to be inflicted on poor tired and hungry soldiers instead of rest and grub. Orations are all very well in their place, but one over a half an hour long, addressed to soldiers who have been marching under heavy knapsacks, it seems to me, is spreading it on a little too thick.
At last, the tearful partings were over, and we were marched to the Worcester Depot, where a long train of cars awaited us. Attached were two locomotives, one of which, the "Despatch," had a calliope connected, and our entire passage to New York was enlivened by its strains, brought out by a master hand.
Along our entire passage through our own Bay State and through Connecticut, at every station and during the whole night, we were welcomed by the eager people, who were awake and ready to extend us a greeting. At many stations, "God bless you!" " Good-by!" handshakings, cheers, and the waving of banners and handkerchiefs, were bestowed unsparingly, while at some other stations food was provided.
At Springfield and New Haven, the former of which we reached at nine and the latter at eleven o'clock, we found the stations crowded with persons of both sexes. At each place we received a hearty welcome, and refreshments were served out to us with no sparing hand, and we were sent on our way rejoicing.
New York received us tbe next day at noon, with cold soup and muddy coffee for the body, and a Testament for the soul; and unless the latter furnished more food to the mind than the former did to to the body, all I can say is, its mission was a total failure. However, I don't complain, for, thanks to our First Lieutenant, I have lived well along the entire route.
At the Fifth Avenue Hotel, where another flag was presented us, a double treat was given me. In scanning the faces of the crowd around me, my eyes fell with joy upon the familiar faces of two of our Cambridge ladies, and I think that if a hearty pressure of the hand is any criterion, their hands were a feeling illustration of my delight at meeting them. The presentation address of John R. Brady, Esq., was glorious — soul inspiring. He is truly an orator, and upon him has the mantle of our immortal Webster fallen. The regiment listened to him with delight — the more readily, because the order, "Unsling knapsacks," had been given before he commenced.
At dark, we stowed ourselves away on board the steamer connecting with the Camden and Amboy Line, and arrived in Philadelphia on Thursday morning. We had the misfortune to lose two men overboard from the steamer. Their names were, Furness, of Co. B, Commanded by Capt. Wardwell, and Noyes, a deserter from the Eleventh Regiment, under Col. Clark. Noyes was in charge of Capt. Whorf. Co. G, for safe conduct. Cause, drunkenness. One man belonging to Co. A, Capt.Sampson, was badly injured in the head by being struck by a bridge. He is dead. These constituted the entire chapter of accidents for the regiment. Our company came through without an accident, and without an incident, with one exception, which occurred between Baltimore and Washington, of which, hereafter.
Our breakfast at tbe Volunteers' Refreshment Room, was an event. All praise to Philadelphia and its warm-hearted people, old and young, where the children with their hereditary patriotism, lisp their infantile "Good-by," and shake the "bronzed bands" and look up into the "bronzed faces" of the soldiers in perfect trust and confidence.
At noon, we started for Baltimore, and along the route I was pleased to see, here and there, our glorious banner waving, and other marks of Union sentiments.
As we marched over the battle-ground of April l9th, I observed everthing closely, and as I looked upon the small, silent group of men standing with folded arms and closed lips, I wondered if they were again living over in imagination the bloody scenes of that accursed day; and as from window after window appeared our banner waved by the fair hands of woman, I concluded that these must by the lovely heroines of the American Union's war stories, most of which are located in this vicinity.
We left Baltimore at one o'clock at night, but did not reach this place until noon of Friday, being delayed, hour after hour, by the conductor, who is considered rather secesh. At last Col. Wilson placed two of our company in the locomotive, and told the conductor if he did not take us right along, that they would. He caved, and we are here at last.
My impression of Washington is, that it is a total failure, and for the capital of this country, is an outrage. The buildings are poor, the streets are filthy, and, to quote the language of Dodge's Unfortunate Man, "in fact, everything's wrong." Pigs dispute the right of way with foot passengers, and even in Pennsylvania Avenue, the street of the place, mud is in places an inch deep. We were marched in review to the President's grounds, and in someplaces' within a stone's throw of the White House, mud ankle deep.
Our regiment has been highly complimented at Headquarters, and all along our march through the city, I heard flattering encomiums on our appearance. As we passed up the Avenue, I overheard a lady say fervently, "God bless old Massachusetts; she is doing nobly!" In fact, we have almost too good a reputation, for it has had the effect to cause "the powers that be" to send us off immediately, instead of keeping us in camp here for drill, as has been done with all other regiments. We have orders, and even now the "long roll" is beating, and they are distributing ammunition to the boys. This looks like work. However, let it come.
I have just received my rations of cartridges, caps, snd as I stowed them away in my cartridge box, my sensations were peculiar. I cannot analyze them; but if I know myself, there was nothing of fear intermingled.
As I said in the beginning of this epistle, my writing accommodations are extremely limited, and the wonder is that I can write at all. We have been quartered in a large building leased for the purpose, and there are two whole companies in our room, each man making his own peculiar noise, and adding to the universal confusion.
I have just bad the pleasure of a hearty shaking of hands with Charles H. Morse, Esq., of your city, and was very glad to learn that he is in an official position where he can be of service to the cause, into which he has entered with his whole soul.
Frank N. Scott