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Trail of History Last Updated: Mar 1, 2012 - 1:48:56 PM


Trail of History for Week of March 1, 2012
Mar 1, 2012 - 1:48:03 PM

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    This article was first published February 25, 1862 in the Lewisburg Chronicle.

    The 51st PA. REGT. at Roanoke, Steamship Cossac, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 1862 we left Hatteras Inlet last Wednesday moved up the Sound until we got opposite Stumpy Point, where we anchored for the night.
    Thursday we moved a little farther up, until we could just see Roanoke Island. Rain all day.  The gunboats bombarded the batteries from noon until night. The Cossack ran so near as to give up a view of the most magnificent scene I ever witnessed-13 gunboats playing continually, answered by a constant fire from he shore. About 4 in the afternoon, the signal was given for the soldiers to land. Several light draft steamers, with long, strings of boats, filled with men, were already in motion, they made for shore, as our boat put off and I think nearly 5000 men landed at once. Companies A and B of our Regt. went first. About dusk just as we had gone below to eat, the Delaware came alongside and we had to start supperless. When part of Co. H got on shore, it was dark, boggy and uncertain footing. David BREWER was sent ahead as pilot, he had not gone ten years, when he suddenly disappeared, then we saw his head coming up.  Look out Captain, here’s a wall. He crawled out, and we waded along, half the time up to our knees in mud, until we got abreast the bow of the boat, where we formed and waited until all got up. Going on half a mile through the mire, we found solid ground, and stacked arms.  We had a most wretched time - rain or snow all night - no shelter and wood scarce. As I sat on a stick, I forgot, and dreamed that I was in the cabin of the Cossack, pulling a stool up to the warm stove - but waking with a start to find myself shivering in the cold sleet, my boots soaking wet, until they became painful. It was a most dreary day, uncomfortable night.
    Fri., Feb. 7, opened clear but cold. An alarm occurred early in the morning. In two minutes, the whole army, from being scattered all about, were standing in quiet, ranks. The 1st Brigade moved off. We stayed in the storm an hour or two. At half past seven, we heard the scattered reports of musketry close by, and know that Gen. FOSTER was driving in the enemy’s picketts, soon arose the bang of cannon and continued volleys of musketry. The front of the brigade moved and we had got to the edge of the wild, but still in clear ground, when our first wounded were carried back. This was very trying - the hardest thing we had to bear. We moved through a mountain like road, thick with trees and underbrush, the musketry booming more distinct, and other wounded men brought past.
    Double quick, away we went along the crooked road where we could not see ten feet any way, reminding me of a point in the road out from Chappell Hollow. Passing the field hospital, we saw men with skulls split and brains oozing out. There lies one with his arm cut off at the shoulder - here a young childish voice, crying out as we did when the doctor pulled a tooth, and the kindly doctor telling him it wouldn’t hurt - yonder three men pulling a set of man’s arms - and here a fellow comes limping along with a hole in each leg.  Go in boys, I gave ‘em 35 rounds.
    My company has just reached a crossroad where the head of the regiment had turned in to the left, and we had halted. “Blut” goes a shell behind singing over our heads - hits a tree behind Lieut. BLAIR of Bellefonte, a piece of shell strikes a man (not of our regt.) and he drops dead.  I stood on a log talking with Col. HARTRANFT as he came out, he said he had been ordered into the left but couldn’t get any further, (as the balance of the regiment blocked the way, and had sent for orders.)  The balls sang a fearful tune just then.  Soon he was ordering to leave the companies in that were there and with them as far as the crossroads to turn to the right.  Two companies under Lieut. Co. BELL were left there.  We waited for the R.I. Reft., which came across at right angeles to pass-then we started, double quick down the road to the right.  I saw Gen.’s RENO and FOSTER and John A. MORRIS, then our battery of artillery,our men lying down, bullets and shells flying and to their music we crossed in front of the enemy’s battery.  As our company was in front of the battery, we had to halt, but squatted low; just as I stepped across a log, a bullet took a twig off the tree by me - that was about all I saw of the bullets.  We were now in a pine swamp worse than at Francis Wilson’s saw mill, full of underbrush and tangled vines and briars - horrors, what a place.  We waded in, up to the middle, the R.I. Regt. half the time beside us, mixed all up, some half a dozen of my company in sight and sometimes only two or three; but they were all about.  We heard a cheer, and saw a man in a tree towards the battery making signals; one of our men slipped in a shot and the man disappeared. We emerged on the right and rear of the battery, but the enemy was gone.
    The right wing of our regt. formed and moved on before the rest of us got out.  While our wing was forming, I looked into the battery - there were six or seven dead men there, lying like logs and it seemed so queer that on one cared to think anything more of them than of any other relic of the battle.  One young man, with a delicate hand and foot, and black hair and mustache, lay beside a cannon, shot through the face, a ball entering the cheekbone; Selsom was marked on his clothing, a Lieut. son of Dr. Selden of Norfolk.
    Two wounded officers were there, one of whom struck with his sword at some of our men as they came near him:  Col. POTTER asked him why he did that?  He said he had heard that we gave no quarter. Looking at the dead, I saw all had their pockets turned inside out.  The buzzards had been at them already.
    The Fort had three elegant field pieces, and was left i charge of the left wing of our regt.  I was sent on with Lieut. FOSTER of MIFFLINBURG.  After a three or four mile march, we met Gen. FOSTER on horseback.  Well, boys, we have gained a great victory, 2000 or 3000 men have just surrendered to me and all the batteries.  Better believe we yelled.  Tramping on, nightfall came and we lost our way.  At last we got into one of the camps and found a mass. regiment there.  Col. UPTON gave me a bed on the soft, soft floor.
    Sat. morning, found Col. HARTRANFT in quarters not more than 200 yards off - but we did not know it.
    Sunday, we spent in looking around at the prisoners and the batteries, and feel surprised that they should have surrendered with batteries in whcih they could have held out.
    Our companies behaved most admirably.  John A. Morris, aid is mentioned in the reports and Gen. BURNSIDE gave him a captured horse with all the equipment.
    Last night we started to come on board the Cossack, but someone had taken the boat;  so we stayed out i the snow and rain all night, another most wretched time and by duty of perseverance got on board this morning.  We are waiting for a steam tug to land our things.  Having had no sleep of any account, since Friday night I feel pretty hard.  With wet feet since Friday, yet I have not caught the slightest cold, and am perfectly well.
    They take the Cossack to send the prisoners away, so we have to stay on the island until she comes back.  When we get into quarters I will write more.  The Rebels had built elegant quarters on the island, come very handy.


© Copyright 2012 by Mifflinburg Telegraph Weekly Newspaper

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