Woburn Weekly Budget - January 19, 1862
22d Reg. Mass. Volunteers
Hall's Hill, Va
January 19, 1862
Soldiering in the army of the Potomac, though not as yet, very hard, is anything but play. Men who have been accustomed to govern their actions by their own inclinations, and who have joined the army, find that the saying "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty", has a significance which they did not dream of. The discipline of the army is being perfected in a thorough and at the same time just manner. The volunteer were not at first subjected to the constraint imposed upon regulars, as they were unable to bear it. Punishments for offences were light, and many slight deviations from the strict line of duty were unnoticed or passed by with a warning. But te longer we stay the more regular becomes the discipline, and the soldier has to look sharp in order to keep within the law.-- Court martials are constantly sitting and full of business. This is more owing to ignorance or carelessness than to insubordination, but a soldier must know that ignorance is a fault and carelessness is a crime in military life, and expect punishment accordingly. Various are the punishments devised, but fines are the most frequent, though imprisonments are not uncommon. -- Last week a court martial sentenced two men of the 17th New York regiment for deserting their post on picket guard, to two years and ten months in the penitentiary, forfiet all pay and emoluments, and be dishonorably discharged from service. This seems hard, but they could have been given the death sentence, and if we consider the danger to which the army was exposed, the sentence is light. The soldiers' duties are all such as he can understand, and if he is viligant, he need have no fear of a court martial.
Our neighbors of the 9th Mass. Reg. have been somewhat startled from the quiet camp life, by the desertion of Adjutant Wm. Strachn and Lieut. P. D. Redmond. Last week they endeavored to get a furlough, and failing to do that, obtained leave to go to Washington. Previous to going, they took theit trunks in the evening to the house of a Mr. Burch who lives near the encampment, and engaged him to deliver them in Washington. As he is frequently employed in such service, he did so without suspicion. On reaching Washington, they took cars for Boston, but their absence being discovered, a telegram to that city, secured the services of the police, and when they alighted in the city of notions, an obliging officer waited upon them to lodgings already provided for them in the tomb. They came back with the officer on Wednesday, and are now under arrest in Col. Cass's camp. Several changes have taken place recently in the commissions of this
regiment. Lieut. Timothy Burke, of Milford, has been promoted to the first lieutenant. Matthew Dacy, of Boston, and Michael A. Finnerty, of Milford, have been commissioned as second lieutenant. Mr. Finnerty was sergeant major, Sergeant Phelan, who was detailed as private secretary to Gen. F. J. Porter, takes his place. Lieut Scanlan, of Co. A, has gone home on the recruiting service, and will doubtless visit Woburn during his stay in Massachusetts. A good opportunity will thereby occur for our Irish friends who may wish to enlist, to get into a first rate regiment under a colonel as brave and as popular with his men as the gallant commander of the 69th.
Capt. C. J. Paine, of the 22d, has been promoted a major in the 27th. His first lieutenant, G. A. Batchelder, is appointed on Gen. Porter's staff, with the rank of captain. These gentlemen have not left the regiment as yet, and I am not informed as to their successors. Our captain left for home on a furlough, last Monday, and is doubtless enjoying himself among our Woburn friends. He carried with him the good wishes of his company for a pleasant journey and a safe return.
I guess we are not going to move soon, though it is rumored that we came very near it a short time since. It was in this way. Gen McClelan wished for a brigade to accompany Burnside, and asked Gen. Porter for the brigade commanded by Gen. Martindale in which is the 22d and 18th Mss., 2d Maine, and 25th New York regiments. Gen. Porter stated that his division could move at twenty-four hour's notice, but he would not consent that one of our brigade should go without a movement of the whole division. A good many things seemed to indicate an advance last week, but other evens now point as stringly to our staying here. The fact is, we do not know anything about it whatever, but there is no place like a camp for rumors, and the chances are constantly the subject of conversation. It seems as if we are ready to move, and to make a good fight with the rebels, but our generals know better then we, and that we do not advance, we ought to consider proof that we are not ready. The change inthe war department gives very good satisfaction, and whether the conduct of the war will be altered, or any real difference made in the matter, the men think it will be better, and therefore teh administration of the new secretary will be more satisfactory then was Gen. Cameron's.
We had a couple of inches of snow this week, and the second Maine boys "improved the occasion" by making a handsled, with which a file of soldiers gave the officers a ride "o'er the fleecy snow". They came into our camp and gallantly took the wives of two of our lieutenants out "a-sleighing". A sled is a great novelty in Virgina, and it is the first time anyone was ever sliding down Hall's Hill. The snow soon gave place to mud, and the oozy soil of which I spoke in my last, becomes an annoyance to man and beast. There is no frost in the ground, and the wagon tracks (they call them roads) are treacherous quagmires.
The regiment are paid off and the men are flush. The ambrotype saloons near camp are swarmed from morning till night, and teh sutlers are reaping an abundant harvest. Pedlars also appeared in the wake of the paymaster, and knick-knacks of every kind, flood the brigade. We are visited by one traveler who is always welcomed, and he sells hulled corn and milk. The milk is pure and the corn is hot, and men buy it as though the liked it. I can say from experience, that it is good, and I almost thought it better then the Woburn hulled-corn man used to furnish. The rarity of the dish may have had something to do with its good relish. The Union Guard sent home $1600 by Adam's express, and a considerable amount by mail.
W. R. Bennett - 1863
An interesting incident occured on Friday. Sergeant W. R. Bennett has taken a great interest in the company ever since its formation, and in discharge of his duties while he has been attentive to the interest of the service, he secured the affection of the men and the respect of his superiors. The idea of giving him a testimonial having first been broached to the men, it met their approval, and a sum of money was raised to purchase a watch. A committee of subscribers visited Washington, and procured a fine American silver hunter watch, made at Waltham. It is a neat affair, and is engraved as follows:--
SERGT. W. R. BENNETT,
WOBURN UNION GUARD,
January 16, 1862
Sergeant Bennett was ignorant of the honor intended for him, and after dress parade, the company instead of breaking ranks formed a hollow square in front of his quarters, and Private John F. Gleason stepped forward and addressed himin behalf of his comrades in the following words:--
SERGEANT BENNETT:-- We are all aware that the office you hold is, from the nature and variety of its duties, a difficult one to fill. At "reveille" those duties commence, and they occupy your constant attention until "taps" warn us to extinguish the "glims". We have noticed with what fidelity and impartiality you have performed those duties. Brougt by them in contact with each of us we have had excellent opportunities for observing your soldierly conduct, and manly bearing. It is therefore with the greatest pleasure that I, in behalf of the Woburn Union Guard, present you this watch. Recieve it, Sergeant, as a token of our respect and esteem. Receive it as a pledge of our friendship. May those hands in their passage around the dial note only pleasant hours. When the war is ended and an honourable peace secured, may you return to the "brave ones at home", and exhibit with conscious pride as you may, this proof of your soldierly conduct,
"And when in after life, the hallowed light
Of recollection shall to thought invite
And your full heart encircle in a sphere of bright emotions,
may this token serve to remind you of the friendships formed, and scenes enjoyed in the army of the Union".
The Orderly Sergeant replied as follows:--
OFFICERS AND FELLOW SOLDIERS:-- I return to you my sincere thanks for his beautiful and timely present. Words cannot express my heartfelt gratitude to you. The respect and brotherly feeling you have always shown towards me will ever be remembered. Genlemen, my heart feels more than my lips can express, but I will endeavor to serve my country, my officers, and , you, honorably, faithfully, and to the best of my ability. May my good works prove as may and as true as those encased in this beautiful token.
A member of the committee then volunteered the following:--
COMRADE:-- I hope you will not accuse me of unbecomin lever-ty in saying, that having watched the movements of our friend for some time, I am convinced that the main spring of his action is a love of the Union, in the nation and in our company. Whenever any duty has devolved upon him he has "been and done it" therefore, before we have done with Bennett I propose three rousing cheers for the Orderly Sergeant.
The cheers were heartily given and the menwent to their quarters. In the evening Corp. F. W. Thompson kept "open house" at the company headquartes, and the non-commissioned officers and many of the privates partook of his hospitality. The evening was pleasantly passed with sentiment and song, and the Guard will not soon forget the occasion.
A box of clothing for the company, a present from Lieut. Davis and his friends in Milton, was received here a day or two since, and yesterday morning they were distributed by lot. These presents of clothing are as good as money to the men, as each soldier is allowed a certain sum each year for clothing, and each article he draws from the quartermaster is charged to him. If he gets along with less than his allowance, the money is paid him at the close of his term of service. So you see that although government gives the men all they need, if friends at home send shirts and mittens to the soldiers, Uncle Sam will give his boys money for the undrawn balance.
John Lord Parker